Coweta lauds service, record of retiring leader

Retiring Coweta County Administrator Theron Gay (L) received a plaque from Coweta County Commission Chairman Bob Blackburn at the June 18 board meeting. Gay has attended more than 600 commission meetings in his 20 years as administrator. Photo/Ben Nelms.

It was a meeting of the Coweta County Commission that felt more like the end of an era. In a sense it was because the June 18 board meeting was the last one that retiring Coweta County Administrator Theron Gay would attend in that capacity.

For Gay, his retirement in the next couple of weeks translates into 20 years as administrator and a total of 40 years of service in various positions in the county. The commission meeting was attended by a host of county employees and members of Gay’s family.

The occasion was also one where each commissioner commented on the man whose long-serving commitment to Coweta County has made his name synonymous with the county he served.
Commissioner Tim Lassetter described Gay as being honest, humble, moral, cooperative and honorable. And he described him as a friend.

“I hold Theron in the highest esteem,” Lassetter said.

Commissioner Al Smith is the newest member of the board.

“People don’t forget how you make them feel. After I became a commissioner Theron stepped forward to welcome me in as a commissioner. Theron puts everyone at ease. Theron was ‘who he was,’” Smith noted, explaining Gay’s approach as one that is genuine in his interactions with others.

“You’ll be forever remembered by me and by this county,” said Commissioner Rodney Brooks, who summed up Gay’s participation in the life of Coweta County. “You are leaving a legacy.”
Another on the board who was clearly reflecting on the moment was Commissioner Paul Poole.

“This place has been your family and the citizens have been fortunate to have you. You’ve worked 24/7 and you’ve always been there for us - going above and beyond,” Poole said, also thanking Gay’s family members present in the audience. “You always put the county and the citizens first.”

And it was Chairman Bob Blackburn who read a short 19th century poem that echoed the comments of the other board members. The poem stated the attributes of a true gentlemen.
“His deeds follow his word,” Blackburn said in noting one of those attributes.

One of the many things that can be said about Theron Gay is that he does not try to put himself in the limelight. More to the point, he customarily tries to avoid it. But there was no avoiding the praise that came his way at his final commission meeting as Coweta’s administrator. And for Gay, he has been present for more than 600 commission meetings in 20 years.

“It’s been a fantastic experience,” Gay said with his usual humility. “And I’ve appreciated the opportunity to have served with great board members. But the county employees are the backbone of the county. And they are a big part of the success with the county and for me in my life.”

A retirement reception for Gay will be held on July 2 from 5-8 p.m. at the Coweta County fairgrounds.