The Gordon County Republicans honored former Calhoun mayor and Georgia House of Representatives member John Meadows, who served on behalf of the 5th District before his death in 2018, at their meeting on Thursday evening.
Meadows' wife, Marie, his son-in-law, brother, and sister-in-law were present at the recognition ceremony, as were Representatives Matt Barton, Jason Ridley and Rick Jasperse, who spoke about the man they remembered for his humor, love of golf, dedication to family, and ability to "use reason to be effective."
Dianne Kirby, who knew John when they were children because he was friends with her older brother, also spoke about her memories of him. She recalled times they spent together in their youth and the way she was always able to get the boys to let her play with them by threatening to tattle on them. One story in particular, about lifting weights when they were children, brought a round of laughter.
"They were nine years older than I am, so I learned real fast that all it took was me saying, 'Guys, I'm gonna go tell Daddy what you're
saying if you don't let me lift weights with you,' and they'd let me do it," she said. "They'd start me on little weights and say, 'When you can't lift them no more, you have to leave.' One night, they decided Johnny was going to lift first, and he couldn't lift them. I did. They didn't let him live that one down."
Meadows took the jokes in stride, Kirby said, and the others who spoke about him told similar tales, revealing the former politician as a man of truly excellent humor — even in the workplace, where he worked on serious legislation like the colloquially known 'Campus Carry' bill.
Representative Jasperse worked on gun bills with Meadows said that though working on anything related to guns is always a stressful process, Meadows never let it get to him. Instead, he took opportunities to lighten up the stress of their job.
Once, Jasperse said Meadows sent him to get a gun bill reviewed by Stacey Abrams in an effort to be "more bipartisan."
It was Valentine's Day, and he said that when he asked Abrams about the bill, she looked at him like he was crazy. She agreed to do the work and returned it to him, marked all over with red ink. When Jasperse told Meadows about it, the older man had a laugh about his naivete.
"I went to his office and said, 'I want you to look what she did,' and he burst out laughing," Jasperse said. "Then he took it down to the Speaker's office to show him what I'd done!"
Jasperse also read out a speech from Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, who couldn't make it to the event on Thursday night, but wanted to share a few kind words about Meadows and his successful career in the state legislature.
"In the 11 months since Johnny was called home, not one day has gone by that I have not thought of him. His counsel was solid. His friendship was like a rock to lean on and a hand to hold when I grew weary. Unlike many others, he was never shy about telling me no or what I didn't want to hear. I know his memory will be with me until I see him again," Ralston's message read. "The tribute tonight is very appropriate. John Meadows loved Gordon County. From these hills, he cast a shadow that extended from one end of the state to the other. Georgia was blessed to have him for a time. For those of us who had him in our lives, we are better for it. May his legacy live on and God continue to bless his memory."
Barton recalled times when he lived in Gordon County and witnessed first hand Meadows' dedication to community service. Once, he said, he came home at eleven at night to find the former Mayor outside investigating a water issue his neighbors were having in the middle of a rainstorm.
"Johnny hadn't been mayor for 10 or 15 years, but there he was at night checking on the houses in front of him," Barton said. "He always cared about our community and he continued to care no matter how long it had been."
Ridley remembered Meadows as both the joker and legislator, but also as a mentor who taught him "not to back down and to put his family first."
"He was always straight with you. He might hurt your feelings a little bit, but he'd say, 'But I still love you.' That was his favorite thing to say to somebody," Ridley said. "That's something I have a lot of respect for, someone who will come at you straight like that."
After all of the representatives shared their stories, the Meadows family was presented with a tribute plaque honoring John Meadows for his service, commitment to community, and lifetime of work.