Former Thomaston mayor and businessman Charles Edward Kersey passed away on Sunday, March 31, 2013 at Upson Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Kersey will be held Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 11 a. m., in the Chapel of Pasley-Fletcher Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Glenwood Cemetery. More obituary information is on Page 5A.
Mayor Hays Arnold said Thomaston and Upson County have lost a great public servant, and he has lost a good friend and colleague.
“He was a friend, but he was more than that. He was a true public servant, and he never stopped serving,” said Arnold. “From the time he finished up his political tenure, then he moved right on into the hospital. He was active there and active in civic organizations and just continued to do things for people.
“I would see him every now and then and he was always amazing. We would talk about city business. I would ask him questions about what was done at this point or that point, and he had the answers. That’s pretty amazing - at 91 years of age - to have the kind of recollection and ability to draw from that pool of information he had acquired through those years.
“He was a highly ethical, moral man,” added Arnold. “You could bank on anything he told you. He’d never go back on his word on anything he told you. Honest – I don’t think there is anyone who ever had business dealings with Charles Kersey who would tell you other than that. He stood by his word and he backed up what he said he would do.”
Charles Edward Kersey was born and raised in Thomaston, graduating from R. E. Lee Institute. He married the late Sarah McKinley Kersey in 1942 and they were married for 56 years until her death. They have one son, Sandy Kersey.
Charles and Sara Kersey opened Thomaston Hardware Company in 1948. Together they worked to develop a business based on giving the customer value and service. It was said that when you went to Thomaston Hardware you could go in and spend $1 and get $10 worth of advice to go with it.
In the early 80’s the Kerseys wished to slow down some, but not retire. They sold their hardware business to Melvin Fallin and started a locksmith business, Kersey’s Locks and Keys. They operated this business until they both retired in 1993.
When Charles sold the hardware business, he was persuaded by several friends to run for political office. He decided to run for the office of Mayor of the City of Thomaston. He was elected and began serving his community in January 1982. He served five 2-year terms and one 4-year term for a total tenure of 14 years. He decided not to seek reelection at the end of his term in 1995 due to Sara’s declining health.
The 14 years served by Mayor Kersey was a longer tenure than any previous mayor (at least back to the early 1900’s). During his terms as mayor, Charles was insistent the city government be run in a businesslike manner and that the taxpayers were given maximum return for their tax dollar. He also believed in investing in and maintaining the city’s infrastructure and doing the things needed to try to attract new business and industry to the community.
One of the proudest accomplishments of his administration was getting a new airport for Thomaston and Upson County. He worked closely with elected officials in Atlanta, Washington, and within the county to get this much needed project done. He also went to Washington to meet with FAA officials to secure financing and move the project along.
Throughout his years as Mayor, Sara was at his side. She campaigned for him and took most of the complaint calls about garbage collection and barking dogs. He decided not to seek reelection at the end of his term in 1995 due to Sara’s declining health.
Charles was a faithful supporter and leader in his church. He had been a member of Emmaus Primitive Baptist Church since 1942 and had served as a deacon since 1950. He had also served as clerk and treasurer for over 40 years.
In recent years Charles spent many volunteer hours working in the Upson Regional Medical Center’s gift shop as a member of the hospital auxiliary. This was a labor of love of Sara before her death, and Charles continued this in her memory and as a way to keep serving the community he loves. He received a pin for 15,500 hours of volunteer service. He had been known to go out to the hospital to relieve a worker to go to lunch so that the gift shop will not have to be shut down.
Throughout his life Charles was a devoted family man. He had always shown his love for his wife and son and was blessed with a daughter-in-law, Annette Jackson Kersey, two grandsons, Brandon and wife Michelle, Brad and wife Bethany, and four great-grandchildren.
The story of the life of Charles Kersey has truly been one of love and service to his God, his family, and his community.
Portions of this article were provided by the Kersey family.