Former mayor Charles DeVaney dies

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January 28, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Augusta says goodbye to one of its own.

Former Augusta mayor Charles DeVaney was killed today in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Ridgeland is in Jasper County, just north of Hilton Head.

DeVaney was driving home from Savannah when his car went off the road and hit a tree.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is still investigating, but the coroner tells his family he may have had a heart attack, which could have caused the accident.

DeVaney's cousin and close friend Rick Toole says DeVaney had been seeing a cardiologist. His most recent appointment was last month.

Charles DeVaney is known as having served the Garden City both in office and out.

He was Augusta mayor for 12 years, from 1984 to 1996, right up until consolidation.

He was proud of his many accomplishments, notably the Riverwalk project.

He also worked with the Augusta Neighborhood Improvement group and was director of Augusta Tomorrow.

Most recently, he served as director of the Southeastern Firefighter's Burn Foundation for Doctors Hospital.

News 12 spoke with one of DeVaney's political peers and a fellow former Augusta mayor, Bob Young.

The former mayors shared much more than the same office. The two were good friends for more than 30 years.

"It's really hard to describe the loss of someone who has been so important in the life of a community," Young said.

Former mayor Bob Young says DeVaney accomplished a lot during his twelve years as Augusta's mayor.

"Charles brought a lot to the table. He was a very smart person. He knew politics. He knew government. He knew city administration. He knew a lot of people and we're going to be that much less of a community because Charles isn't here and involved with us."

But the man behind the mayor was someone Bob Young considered a lifelong friend. DeVaney even served as a groomsman in Young's wedding.

"Charles was a good friend. He was loyal. He was very passionate about what he did. If he liked you, he liked you. When he was challenged he was very forceful in his beliefs. Charles always tried to do the right thing."

While DeVaney's loss is still hard to imagine, Young reminds us all that his memory is embedded in the community he loved so much.

"The older we get, the fewer good friends we have," he said. "They tend to leave us. But we know Charles is in a good place and we have some great memories. And certainly as we look around Augusta today, we see Charles fingerprints he will always be with us."

Young also says DeVaney had a love for travel. He says DeVaney studied in London and held a special place in his heart for the city.

Young joked that in another life DeVaney would have been a part of British royalty.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver also has history with Mr. DeVaney. He says he's been a family friend for more than 20 years.

"Charles DeVaney was committed to Augusta," Copenhaver said in a statement. "He was a good friend to me but more so was a good friend to Augusta. He worked hard as mayor but as a private citizen as well."

Mr. DeVaney was in his 50s.

He lived downtown, where he worked to revitalize the area.