John David "Jack" Baston, Jr. made friends easy and because he did, it paid dividends for many years in his line of work as a banker. Mr. Baston went on to serve in public office as a member of the McDuffie County Board of Education. He also was a leader in his church and community-oriented.
Mr. Baston passed away on Wednesday at Doctors Hospital in Augusta. He was 79.
"He was a fixture in our community," said George Lokey, president of First Bank of Georgia in Thomson. "He was always there to help out in our community for as long as I can remember. He was the kind of man who was involved in all aspects of the community."
Funeral services for Mr. Baston were held last Saturday in Westview Cemetery in Thomson with Dr. Tom Kerr and the Rev. Chad Norris officiating.
He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Martha Baston, of Thomson; a son, John David Baston, III, of Gainesville, Ga.; his wife, Karen Baston and their children, John David Baston, IV; and Caroline Baston.
Curtis Funeral Home in Thomson was in charge of arrangements.
Mr. Baston's banking career began and ended at First National Bank in Thomson. He first began there as a teller/cashier and rose to the position of executive vice-president. He kept up with the latest trends in the banking industry as a member of the Georgia Banker's Association. After his retirement from the bank in 1990, he continued to serve as a member of the bank's board of directors.
A graduate of the University of Georgia, Mr. Baston understood the importance of getting a quality education, friends said. He later was elected to public office as a school board member.
"He was a Southern gentleman," said Jim Rivers, of Stapleton, a retired vice-president of First National Bank. "His passing is a tremendous loss to Thomson, because he was such a community-minded person and a dear friend."
Mr. Lokey recalled how Mr. Baston enjoyed singing in the choir at First United Methodist Church in Thomson.
"I always enjoyed hearing him sing," said Mr. Lokey. "He sang bass. He and Miss Jewell (Broome) sang a lot of duets together at our church. They sang beautifully together."
Sarah Smith, who worked with Mr. Baston at the bank for many years, said his death "is a great loss" to the community.
"Everybody loved Jack," said Ms. Smith, who retired from the bank in 2001 as vice-president. "Jack was always so helpful to the new employees at the bank. He always treated everybody fair and with respect."
Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry called Mr. Baston "a great neighbor." The two lived across the street from one another for many years.
"He was a great banker, even though he worked for a competitor bank," said Mr. Usry. "He was an unselfish community leader - constantly giving of his time to make Thomson a better place."
Mr. Baston's son, John David Baston, III, said his father liked doing things to help people.
"He loved helping people get started out in a life with a loan," said his son. "And he loved all the people that he worked with at the bank all of those years."
Mr. Baston said he was particularly pleased that his children got the opportunity to know their grandfather.
"My Dad loved being around them and they loved being around Papa," said Mr. Baston.
Aside from his deep dedication at the bank, Mr. Baston also had a deep sense of loyalty to his community. He was a member and former president of the Kiwanis Club and helped raise money to promote Easter Seals and the Boy Scouts of the Central Savannah River Area for many years.