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Richard PETTYS

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Family-Placed Death Notice

PETTYS, Richard RICHARD ( DICK) ROY PETTYS Richard Roy Pettys, (Dick) Son of Norman William Pettys and Jenny Lind Mather Pettys, has passed. He was born on November 25, 1945 at St Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta, GA. He grew up in the Morningside area of Atlanta and resided on E. Pelham Rd. He attended Morningside Elementary, was active in YMCA Indian Guides and DeMolay. He took up the saxophone at age 13 and graduated from North Fulton High School in 1963 where, at the time of his passing, he was helping to plan the fiftieth reunion of his class. It was at North Fulton that Dick became interested in Journalism through the influence of his teacher, Kathryne Connell. He attended the University of Georgia where he met his wife of 47 years, Marian Stephanie Suessmith of Smyrna, GA. They had three boys, Richard Roy Pettys, Jr, William Howland Pettys II (Beaux), and Clement Nelson Pettys (Chip). In the late sixties, Dick and Stephanie bought their first home in Lawrenceville, GA, while he was working for the Gwinnett Daily News at a salary of $65 per week. In 1969, Dick was hired by the Associated Press as a political correspondent and began his brilliant career. In 1974, Dick moved his family back to Morningside, a mere nine houses from where he grew up. Shortly after moving back to Atlanta, Dick and his family became heavily involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Dick became the Cubmaster of Pack 29 and, later on, the Scoutmaster of Troop 455. It was through Scouting that Dick earned substantial amounts of gratitude in his community. He is fondly remembered as a mentor, a tireless worker, and most of all, the example to which many young men aspired. His boys would hear frequently, "you have the best Dad." As to his professional life, Dick asked that the following, an article from his first retirement in 2005, be used in his obituary (he was a planner too): BYLINE : JILL VEJNOSKA DATE : January 15, 2006 PUBLICATION : Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA) EDITION : Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution SECTION: Metro News PAGE: D12 Funny -- he doesn't look like a museum piece. Yet to many, Dick Pettys is worth preserving. When he retired recently from The Associated Press after more than three decades of keeping Georgia politicians honest (or not), his colleagues started throwing around words like "institution" and "the very definition of a journalist." Drawled former Gov. Roy Barnes: "I told him, 'You're such a fixture, when you die, they're gonna stuff you and put you up on the third floor of the Capitol." But the lean and unlined 60-year-old looks a long way from the taxidermist's needle. And for a fixture, Pettys seems awfully comfortable with change. Last week, for the first time in 35 years, the legislative session began without Pettys at his desk in the Associated Press office in the Legislative Office Building. But he was just down the hall, reporting in the comparatively wild frontier of the Internet for the influential online newsletter InsiderAdvantage Georgia. "Everyone should change jobs every 36 years," Pettys said with a sort of wry understatement rarely heard here or across the street at the Capitol. "It keeps you fresh." Not that Pettys ever seemed in danger of getting stale. The man seemed never to stop working, frequently eating popcorn for lunch while typing with what can only be described as the Pettys Four Finger Method. He ticked off his fair share of politicians over the years -- the late Gov. Lester Maddox dubbed him a "long-haired devil" -- but he also won their respect. "Dick was a walking encyclopedia of the last half of the 20th century in Georgia politics," said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, the Cobb County Republican who first met Pettys as a rookie state representative in 1976. "On my last statewide race, he traveled with me for a day to do a story, and I ended up asking him more questions than he asked me." Pettys "got my goat so many times," said Barnes, who nevertheless had the AP man's name put on a chair in the governor's office to ensure he got a good seat at news conferences. "Dick could criticize you, and you'd still like him. That's the mark of a great journalist." Zell Miller paid Pettys perhaps the highest compliment. The former governor and U.S. senator said that even though he didn't always like what Pettys wrote, he never stopped talking to him. For one thing, he said, Pettys was eminently fair: "He wouldn't write anything about somebody without giving them a chance to reply." For another, he was really good at finding people. "He knew how you came into the building and how you came out," Miller chuckled. That aggressive streak served Pettys well. (Cont'd. On Next Column)
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Oct. 12, 2012
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