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First editor of Poultry Times passes away

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By David B. Strickland

Poultry Times staff

dstrickland@poultrytimes.com

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Gordon Sawyer, 89, the first executive secretary of the Georgia Poultry Federation, and the very first editor of Poultry Times, died on Nov. 5.

A consummate wordsmith for agriculture and the poultry industry, Sawyer performed many roles during his lifetime, but a key among them all was communication.

“As the first executive secretary of the Georgia Poultry Federation and founding editor of the Poultry Times, Mr. Sawyer played an important role in the industry during a time of rapid change and modernization,” said Mike Giles, Georgia Poultry Federation president. “Throughout his life, he remained one of the poultry industry’s strongest supporters and closest friends.”

Sawyer’s work consistently aimed at promoting poultry and agriculture. He was the guest speaker at an agricultural breakfast in Gainesville, Ga., in 2014. During this event, Sawyer noted that, “Poultry is the number one economic engine in our area (North Georgia) . . . Sometimes I think that we take our farm economy for granted . . . People in the poultry industry, people in the farming community, they are the bedrock of the economy of our whole area.”

Sawyer founded his own marketing and advertising agency, Sawyer Riley Compton, in 1960, moving it to Atlanta, Ga., in 1991. In 1989, he was named the Agriculture Communicator of the Year by the National Agrimarketing Association, a group, years earlier, with which he served as president.

Sawyer was also the author of six books, ranging in topics from the history of the development of the poultry industry to the history of northeast Georgia.

Sawyer provided many stories viewing from his “window on Green Street.” During recent years, he provided radio commentary for WDUN in Gainesville, as well as being a speaker on the culture and history of North Georgia.

Sawyer was also the recipient of many awards and accolades during his career, which included being elected to the University of Georgia Grady School of Journalism’s Public Relations Hall of Fame in 1992. A graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Sawyer also did journalism graduate work at Emory University. He served on the board of directors of Brenau University’s Northeast Georgia History Center, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Georgia State Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. In 2007, he was elected to the Hall County Agribusiness Hall of Fame. He was a lifelong supporter of the Republican Party, and in 1983 was appointed by President Reagan to the Technical Advisory Board for International Trade.

Sawyer was a World War II Navy veteran, and an elder with First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville.

Mr. Sawyer and his wife, Jean, were married for 65 years. They have three sons, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandsons.

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