An overflow crowd came to say goodbye to educator, author and deacon Joe Greene at Springfield Baptist Church in Thomson on Friday.
Mr. Greene was the first black elected official in McDuffie County. He left Emanuel County in 1959 with one pair of tennis shoes and $35 he'd earned picking cotton and rose to prominence because of his extraordinary character, the speakers at his funeral said.
He died Monday at the age of 67 after a long struggle with cancer.
Mr. Greene was praised as a man of love, character and trustworthiness.
"Joe Greene was an unusual man," said Solomon Walker II. "God was at his very best when he made Joe Greene."
The Rev. Bennie Brinson described Mr. Greene as a man of character who stood above the crowd.
"What he did, and the way of serving others was unique to him," he said. "He stood tall and commanded recognition."
Mr. Greene loved the Lord; Springfield Baptist Church; his home church in Emanuel County, Piney Grove Missionary Baptist; his pastor, the Rev. Frederick D. Favors; his wife Barney, his son David, and his daughter Cathy, his grandchildren and his extended family, the Rev. Brinson said.
"He loved Thomson. He loved Augusta, and he loved Augusta State University. He knew that the love for others is the bedrock of life."
Georgia Court of Appeals Judge John Ruffin said Mr. Greene "moved from success to significance."
"He became my mentor, my adviser and my friend because of his honorable and always gracious personality, his unfailing trustworthiness and his extraordinary character," ASU President Dr. William Bloodworth said.
Thomson Mayor Bob Knox recounted how Mr. Greene helped the community make the transition from an agricultural, segregated old South to an industrial, business, integrated new South.
"We had a lot of things to overcome, and I am firmly convinced that the successes we had during that time -- we were not perfect, obviously -- but we had many successes. And those successes were due in every case to Joe Greene."
Mr. Greene was buried in West View Cemetery in Thomson.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.