Former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders, a man considered to be the first New South governor, died Sunday. He was 89.
Sanders, a Democrat, served as governor from 1963 until 1967. Born in Augusta in 1925, Sanders served in the state legislature before his ascension to the governor’s office.
“During his tenure as governor, he transformed Georgia by building thousands of classrooms, improving our transportation system, increasing state income and bringing a competitive spirit to the state through the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Braves,” Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement. “But more than anything else, Gov. Sanders showed true leadership and character by supporting civil rights for all during a time when many were not.
“It is this legacy that I remember with a heavy heart today, and his lasting positive impact on our state will be felt by many future generations of Georgians,” Deal added. “We will continue to pray for the Sanders family during this difficult time.”
Sanders ran again for governor in 1970, but lost to future President Jimmy Carter. Following his tenure as governor, Sanders founded the Troutman Sanders law firm.
“Governor Sanders was an extraordinary and rare individual who achieved phenomenal success both in the public and private sectors,” Troutman Sanders Chairman Robert W. Webb Jr. said in a statement. “He was, in many ways, responsible for helping to build the foundation for success that has made the modern Georgia what it is today. This is a very sad day for our firm, as we join all Georgians in mourning the passing of a great man who was not only a great leader, but also an even better friend to those of us who knew him well.
“I was truly fortunate to not only have Carl Sanders as a mentor but also as a dear friend,” Webb added. “One cannot overstate the impact he had not only on our Firm, but also on this state and in the lives of all Georgians. Simply put, Georgia would not be the great state it is today without Carl Sanders.”
Sanders is survived by his wife, Betty Foy Sanders, two children and five grandchildren.