George M Rooks, Jr was born in Huntsville, AL, His parents were the late George M and Lona Bell Rooks; grandparents were Henry Glenn and Susan Antionette Malcom Rooks of Walton County and Alvin F. and Leila Breedlove Bell, of Hartwell.
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After graduation from Hartwell High School he entered The Citadel in Charleston, SC serving as a cadet for two years before entering service in WWII. After basic training at Fort Gordon he attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning where he was commissioned as a 2d Lieutenant. He served briefly at Fort McClellan, AL and later served in the Philippine Islands. Released from active duty in 1947, he returned to The Citadel to complete his education.
While a veteran student he married his high school sweetheart, the late Miriam Bailey Rooks in The Citadel Chapel. He graduated from The Citadel in 1948 and returned to Hartwell where he was employed in the family business, The Hartwell Coca-Cola Bottling Company later becoming the CEO and COO.
He remained in the Army Reserve and helped organize Hartwell's first Reserve unit, the 963rd Engineer Dump Truck Company and later commanded Company M of the 519th Infantry Regiment of the 81st Infantry Division (Reserve). After deactivation of the Reserve unit he was instrumental in securing the Reserve Armory for the administrative offices of the Hart county Board of Education.
He was appointed by Governor Carl Sanders to serve on the "Committee for Judicial Reform in Georgia" and for a number of years served as an arbitrator for the Georgia Bar Association.
A charter member of the Hartwell Kiwanis Club, he served as President, Lieutenant Governor of the 7th Division and Chairman of the Georgia District Committee in Support of Churches. He was honored by Hartwell Kiwanis in 2004 by being named a George Henson Fellow.
He served for 31 years as a member of the Hart County Hospital Authority and was chairman for a number of years. In 1983, he was named Trustee of the Year by the Georgia Hospital Association. He served as member and treasurer of the Carolina-Georgia Blood Center. A life member of the Georgia Soft Drink Association he served as a member of the Board of Directors and was President of the Georgia Council of Coca-Cola Bottlers. He was elected to the membership of the Georgia Business and Industry Board.
He also served two terms as chairman of the Emmanuel College Advisory Board, President of the 2nd District of the Georgia Municipal Association and a member the GMA Board. He was a member of the Board of the Hart County Board of Health, secretary-treasurer of the Bell Family YMCA, secretary-treasurer of the Hart County Industrial Authority, a founding member and secretary for 8 years of the Hart County Historical Society, Chairman and member of the Hartwell Elementary School Board of Trustees and a member of the Nations Bank advisory board. He was also a founding director of the Hart County Community Theater as well as a member of the American Legion, the VFW, the SCV, SAR, and MOAA. He was named Boss of the Year by both Hart County Jaycees and Credit Women International. In 2006 the Samuel Elbert Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution awarded him the SAR's silver medal for his many benevolent and generous contributions to the Northeast Georgia Community area.
Mr. Rooks was a member of the Hartwell First Baptist Church where he served on the Board of Deacons as a member and Chairman, He was Chairman of the new church Design and Equipment committee and chairman of a pastoral search committee. He taught Sunday School for 60 years, the Doc Adams Class recognized his service with a donation of a bookcase to the church library.
A life member of the Citadel Alumni Association, he served as Class Chairman for the classes of '45-'48 and was president of the Northeast Georgia Citadel Club. In 2012, The Citadel recognized his contributions as a Leader in Philanthropy with his induction into The Order of The Tartan.
After his father (a WWI veteran) died in 1965 he began the program of decorating graves of veterans in Hartwell with American flags for Memorial Day and was later joined by Hart County Post 109 of the American Legion in this endeavor.
He served as an expert witness for The Coca-Cola Company testifying before the Federal Trade Commission and in other legal cases. He won several sales awards from The Coca-Cola Company during his over 30 years with Hartwell Coca-Cola.
An avid traveler he visited 57 different countries and every continent, including Antarctica.
Elected to the city council in 1985 he served for 20 years as a member of the council and as Mayor Pro-Tem. He wrote the city ordinance making Hartwell a "City of Ethics" and was instrumental in changing the form of city government to city manager.
In 2009 he was awarded the "Golden Shovel Award" for a lifetime of service to Hartwell and Hart County by the Hartwell/Hart County Chamber of Commerce.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 36 years, Miriam Bailey Rooks. Survivors include his devoted companion of 29 years, Millie Colvin of Holly Hill, SC; children, George M Rooks, III of Davis, CA and his wife, Hila; Dr Mark C Rooks of Johns Island, SC and his wife, Kateryna Shaforost; grandchildren George M Rooks, IV and his wife, Dana; John Brendan Rooks and his wife Gloria; Kane Rooks; Maayan Rooks; 4 great-grandchildren, Callista, Isabella, Avery, and Ari Rooks.
Funeral services will be Wednesday, March 6 at 11:00 a.m. at the Hartwell First Baptist Church with Rev. Carter Tucker and Dr. Hugh Kirby officiating. Burial will be in the Nancy Hart Memorial Park with Military Honors.
The body is at the Strickland Funeral Home of Hartwell, where the family will receive friends from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night. Flowers optional, memorials may be made to The Citadel Foundation, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston SC 29409 or to the Endowment Fund of the Hartwell First Baptist Church, 81 E. Howell Street, Hartwell GA 30643 or to the Holly Hill Academy, PO Box 726, Holly Hill SC 29059.
The Strickland Funeral Home of Hartwell is in charge of all arrangements for Mr. George M. Rooks Jr. On-line condolences can be sent to the family at www.stricklandfh.com
Joseph A. Strickland Funeral Homes
305 Cleveland Avenue
Hartwell, GA 30643
Published in Athens Banner-Herald on Mar. 5, 2013