Columbus attorney and longtime Georgia legislator Tom Buck died early Thursday morning at Columbus Hospice.
He was 81.
Buck served 38 years in the Georgia General Assembly, exiting in 2004. He was a hardcore Georgia Democrat when Democrats controlled the state. Buck worked his way into powerful committee chairmanships under longtime Speaker Tom Murphy.
Buck led the House Education, Ways and Means and Appropriations committees during his tenure in the General Assembly.
Columbus attorney Madden Hatcher Jr. has known Buck since they met in the kindergarten class at Wynnton School.
“He was a good citizen, a good person and a dear friend for more than 75 years,” Hatcher said Thursday morning. “He will be missed greatly.”
Buck came from a prominent Columbus family and attended the city’s public schools. He graduated from Columbus High School in 1955. And attended Emory University for his undergraduate degree and Emory Law School, graduating in 1962.
Buck first won election to the House in 1966, Buck was first elected to the state house in 1966, when he was persuaded to run for a seat held by Jack Brinkley, who ran successfully for Congress.
He was quiet and worked his way through the ranks of the General Assembly.
“He was very quiet about what he did and the way he did it,” Hatcher said. “That is one of the reasons he was successful. It is also one of the reasons he was successful in getting things done for Columbus. He didn’t talk about what he did.”
Though his legislative work with the University System of Georgia on the High Education Committee, Buck was able to help fund and grow Columbus State University.
“He did a lot for CSU over the years,” Hatcher said.
During his tenure, CSU grew from a small community college to a robust state university.
Hatcher remembers the one of the first times he met Buck. It was in that Wynnton kindergarten class.
“He was wearing saddle Oxfords,” Hatcher said of Bucks shoes of choice. “We wore them throughout high school, to Emory and into the Georgia General Assembly. He loved those saddle Oxfords.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.