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Reverend Dr. Willie T. Edmondson, LaGrange’s First Black Mayor, Dies

Reverend Dr. Willie T. Edmondson, LaGrange’s First Black Mayor, Dies
January 24, 1954 – February 16, 2024

LaGrange, Georgia’s first Black mayor, Reverend Dr. Willie T. Edmondson, died on Friday, February 16, 2024. He had just taken office as mayor, less than a year ago, on March 27, 2023. He had more than 30 years of spiritual and civic leadership.

Edmondson served as a councilman for LaGrange for 24 years before being elected mayor. The mayor had been hospitalized since last week.

The city posted the following statement on Facebook: “The City of LaGrange is deeply saddened to announce this morning we lost our Mayor Willie T. Edmondson. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and we are supporting them in any way we can during this time. We ask the community to join us in keeping the family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Edmondson was a lifelong resident of Troup County and LaGrange, Georgia whose work and service had positively impacted all citizens. He was born in Antioch, Georgia – outside of the LaGrange city limits – where his family set an example of hard work and community values. He was a funeral director, owning Lakes-Dunson-Robertson Funeral Home in LaGrange and was senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in West Point, Georgia.

After studying at West Georgia Technical College, Edmondson entered into the healthcare profession as a nurse at City County Hospital (now Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center). When he responded to the calling to enter the ministry, he pursued studies at Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia and Jehovah Jireh Seminary in Alexander City, Alabama. He continued his care for LaGrange citizens when he acquired Lakes-Dunson-Robertson Funeral Home after working there for several years and continuing its tradition of dedicated and respectful service to the families of loved ones who have passed.

He was first elected as a city councilman in 1998 and during his tenure, he helped to bring important economic and community development projects to LaGrange including Great Wolf Lodge, The Thread Trail, the Downtown Corridor, and the Griggs Recreational Center, among others. As mayor, in July 2023, he supported and helped to unveil the new Troup County park named for Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. and the late Dr. Benjamin T. Wood. This new park is located near 118 Brown Street in LaGrange, Georgia and is the site of the former Kelly Grammer School, an elementary school that had been the only school for Black children prior to integration.

Edmondson was among those servants that truly contributed to LaGrange, Georgia and Troup County. Others that called LaGrange and Troup County their home and former “stompin’ grounds” include:

  • the late Dr. Benjamin T. Wood (1895/1900-1970), the only Black doctor in LaGrange from the 1920s until his traumatic untimely death in 1970;
  • the late Honorable Horace T. Ward (1927-2016), a former Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia;
  • the late Wynona Moore Lipman (1923-1999), former New Jersey Senator;
  • the late Dr. Louis Tompkins Wright (1891-1952), Harlem Hospital surgeon and Civil Rights activist;
  • the late Dr. Clinton E. Warner, Jr. (1924-2012), Atlanta physician/surgeon, Civil Rights activist, and Inquirer board member;
  • the late John B. Smith, Sr. (1935-2017), Atlanta high school educator / administrator and longtime publisher of The Atlanta Inquirer; and
  • Civil Rights activist and profound internationally recognized minister Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.

The public viewing for W. T. Edmondson was held at Bethlehem Baptist Church (1111 East 10th Street, West Point, Georgia 31833) on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. Visitation was at Bethlehem Baptist Church on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. His funeral was at the church on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, starting at 1:00 pm, live-streamed via Facebook @BethlehemBaptistChurch.

Edmondson had been a friend to The Inquirer family, and we mourn with his family and the LaGrange citizens.

Last updated on February 23, 2024

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