Mr. Wyatt Washington “Buddy” Spann passed away peacefully Sept. 14 with several family and friends by his side. Buddy was well known in Hazlehurst and southeastern Georgia as a longtime businessman, politician, and, most of all, family man.
Born Feb. 8, 1927, in Jeff Davis County to James Edward and Lillie Mae Harrison Spann, Buddy graduated from Hazlehurst High School in 1944. He then went into the military, serving his country in World War II in both the Army and Navy, the latter of which he served on the U.S.S. Ray. While he was in the military, he attended college at Auburn University and the University of Florida. He also attended South Georgia College.
In 1948, Buddy married Mary Louise Dean Spann, who was the love of his life. He then began working with and later became the owner of Farm Equipment Company with R.F. Connell. The business eventually became C&S Buick-Pontiac-GMC, which Buddy owned until his retirement.
Buddy joined the political arena and served his hometown in true public service for more than three decades, first as a member of the Hazlehurst City Council, taking office in 1962 and serving until 1973; and then he was elected mayor, serving from 1974 to 1984; and then became mayor again from 1987 to 1999 through an appointment to fill an unexpired term and then by subsequent elections. He served once more on the Hazlehurst City Council from 2008-09 to fill an unexpired term. Buddy was mayor for more years than anyone else in the history of the City of Hazlehurst, bringing grace, integrity and principle to the office.
The Hazlehurst City Council voted unanimously to name a city park on Plum Street as Buddy Spann Park, which will forever honor his name. In 1990, he led a goodwill delegation from Hazlehurst to attend the 125th birthday celebration of Hazlehurst, Miss. Both towns were founded by and named for Colonel George Hazlehurst.
In addition to his time as mayor and councilman, in 1975, then-governor George Busbee named Buddy as “Lieutenant Colonel, Aide De Camp, Governor’s Staff,” and John Oxendine, who was the state’s fire commissioner, awarded him the honor of Battalion Chief in the State Fire Marshal Corps in 1996. Buddy also served as both first vice-president and president of the Eighth District for the Georgia Municipal Association, the governing body of Georgia’s municipalities.
Buddy and Louise enjoyed traveling across the United States and throughout Europe, golfing, and spending time with their children and grandchildren. He was a founding member of Ocmaha Country Club, the first-ever golf course in Hazlehurst. Buddy also accomplished the rare feat of receiving his 50-year apron from Hazlehurst Masonic Lodge 283 and the Grand Lodge of Georgia, a story that received front page news in the Jeff Davis Ledger.
Buddy was preceded in death in 2012 by Louise, to whom he was married for 64 years, and three sisters, Marlene Spann Peede who was married to Louie Peede, Mary Ellen Spann Conley who was married to Raymond Conley, and Eddie Merle Spann Dunn who was married to James Dunn.
He is survived by his children, Wyatt W. Spann Jr. and his wife Emily Irwin Spann, Jerry Spann and his wife Becky Finley Spann, and Gail Spann Miller and her husband, Percy Miller; grandchildren Bryan Spann, Leigh Spann Hughes, Tracy Spann, Jerry Spann Jr., John Miller and Kelly Miller Story; great-grandchildren Delanie Story, J.P. Miller, Finley Spann, Wyatt Spann, Ivey Jane Story, Harrison Spann, Emmett Spann and Chase Poppell; and brother, Gene Spann and his wife, Grace.
Services were held Sept. 19 at Hazlehurst First United Methodist Church. Members of the Jeff Davis County Veterans Association, of which Buddy was a member, hostx full military honors. The Rev. Allen Hartsfield, Dr. Benjamin Glosson, and the Rev. Andy Williams led the services, with the Rev. Jeffery Spell providing music. Interment was in Hazlehurst City Cemetery.
Flowers are accepted, but the family prefers a donation be made in Buddy’s name to the charity of your choice.
Active pallbearers were John Miller, Jerry Spann, Bryan Spann, John Howard, John Conley, and Chris Hodge. Honorary pallbearers were all friends and family who attend the service.
Wainright and Parlor Funeral Home was in charge of all arrangements.