Former Georgia Gov. George Busbee dies of heart attack
Published on: 07/16/04
SAVANNAH — Former Georgia Gov. George Busbee died in Savannah Friday of an apparent heart attack at the age of 76, his son said.
Busbee was in the Savannah airport for a vacation, said son Jeff Busbee. He collapsed between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. He appeared to be in good health before the attack, Jeff Busbee said.
The Democrat lived in Duluth. He was governor from 1975 to 1983, the first in state history to serve two consecutive four-year terms.
"He was an excellent governor," said another former governor, Democrat Roy Barnes. "He had an intricate knowledge of the state, particularly the budget."
The head of the state Democratic Party, Bobby Kahn, said Busbee was a favorite among state Democrats and worked for successive candidates as recently as 2002.
"His slogan was, 'A workhorse, not a showhorse,' and that's how he was," Kahn said. "He was a great governor and believed in a strong party."
Busbee was born in Dooley County on Aug. 7, 1927, and attended the Georgia Military College and Abraham Baldwin College before joining the Navy.
After military service, he graduated from the University of Georgia, where he met and married Elizabeth Talbot of Ruston, La., and earned a law degree there in 1952.
He practiced law in Albany and won a seat in the Legislature, where he served 18 years. Busbee was floor leader for Gov. Carl Sanders in 1967 and became majority leader, a position he held for eight years.
Busbee won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1974, Jimmy Carter's final year in office, over better known rivals such as Lt. Gov. Lester Maddox and state highway director Bert Lance, who later became President Carter's budget chief.