She has been a constant presence. Representing district two as a City of Thomaston council member for 18 year, Lila Bryan will vacate her seat after tomorrows’ meeting.
Bryan was the second female ever to be elected to the council and first served in 1982 and 1983; terms used to be two years, now they are four years. It would not be until 1991 when she would win again and has served ever since that time.
There will be a special reception for Bryan tomorrow from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Thomaston-Upson Government Complex. The regularly scheduled meeting will be at 7 p.m.
“I chose to run in ’81 because some of the community leaders felt I couldn’t contribute and I thought this would be a way to give back to the community,” she said. “That’s all I ever wanted to do, is to give back.”
Born and raised in Thomaston, Bryan has lived in district two her whole life. She married her sweetheart, Emmett, 54 years ago and they have three daughters Pam Mitchell, Kimberly Hardy and Stacey Brown. They are grandparents to six grandchildren and six grand-animals.
Taking care of her district was like taking care of her family.
“I’ve seen it go from a well taken care of place to rundown,” she said. “I think what I’m most proud of at this minute is to see is an officer whose job it is to take care of nuisance and dilapidated properties. Now we are able to take people to court and they have to clean it up or tear it down.
“I met with a lot of resistance to start with everyone saying we would just windup in court, but that’s the purpose of having city codes. Someone has to enforce them otherwise why do we have them.”
The neighborhood is important to Bryan and her district has four neighborhood associations: Alpha, 456, Pine Edge and Avenues. She has always had an open ear policy for people to contact her with any concerns. The phone is always on at the Bryan residence.
“The only promise I could ever make is that people could call if they needed me,” she said. “I’ve always stuck with that. My children would get aggravated with the phone ringing off the hook, but I never failed to reply. I will help anyway that I can.
“Sometimes I wish I could have been more involved, but you can’t be all things to all people. I think if you can do one thing and do it well then you’ve accomplished something. My focus was the nuisance problems.”
In 18 years, Bryan has served with four mayors, two city attorneys, two city auditors, five city managers, three city clerks, four fire chiefs and three police chiefs.
“It’s amazing to look back on all my notes from then to now,” she said. “I served with a lot of people and only faced opposition twice. It has been a great experience.”
The chose not to run for re-election this year was one she found only in prayer.
“Anybody knows when it is time,” she said. “I knew when it was time to close my beauty shop and I did that in ’98 and never regretted it. Some people may think it has to do with health reasons, but that has nothing to do with my decision. I know it is time for someone else to serve.”
When she rises from her chair Tuesday night, Bryan will turn over her seat to Patsy Perdue. Bryan says she is glad to see the city welcoming Perdue already by inviting her to meetings and sending her agenda packets. She says back in her earlier years, that wasn’t a practice, but she’s glad to see the city getting the soon-to-be council members brought up to speed.
Bryan describes serving her district as “a special task” that takes “everything you have to give.”
“I just want district two to know that anyone who steps into the job they have to be patient with,” she said. “It takes time because there’s a lot to learn and a lot to adjust to. Serving affects every aspect of your life. If you’re not willing to give it up then don’t step up.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to serve the city and my district. I feel continually blessed.”
Even though Tuesday’s is her last meeting, Bryan says she will still be around and her phone will still be ready to receive any calls.