Cancer claimed the life Bryan County Board of Equalization chairman Owen Thayer Sunday. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in March. Thayer was 57.
He is a former member of the Development Authority, Homebuilders Associations in both Richmond Hill and Savannah and helped run the annual Seafood Festival for many years.
He owned the Richmond Hill-based Coastal Atlantic Mortgage along with his wife, Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Janet Thayer. He was also a graduate of the Southeast Leadership Georgia program.
"He lived in Savannah most of life, but when we moved to Richmond Hill in 1996, this town became his heart," Janet Thayer said. "He became very involved in it, cared about how it grew and strived to make it a better place."
Thayer said she has been amazed at the outpouring of "care and support from everybody in the county and the city since Owen was diagnosed. He was a wonderful man with a heart of gold, and apparently I’m not the only one who saw him that way."
"He was bigger than life, yet he was a quite southern gentleman," said Bonnie Proctor with the Chamber. "He was soft spoken, but powerful. And the work that he did made one thing abundantly clear – he loved Bryan County."
County Administrator Phil Jones said Thayer was passionate about his work with the county and had high goals and expectations.
"To know Owen is to love him," Chamber Director Kittie Franklin said. "He was a big part of our family here at the Chamber."
Debbie Sisco worked with Thayer at First Bank of Coastal Georgia, where he rented space at the time, before he became her employer at Coastal Atlantic. She said Thayer treated her more like a family member than an employee and "he was like that with just about everybody. If you met him one time, he became an instant friend. He will be greatly missed in this community."Linda Barker served with Thayer on the Bryan County Development Authority. She called Thayer "a man of principle who was never short-sighted. And always fair … everyone got a fair shake when he was evaluating properties as part of his duties with the Board of Equalization."
When Thayer was not working at Coastal Atlantic, which will remain open in his absence, or volunteering for the community, he spent time with his other passion – Harley Davidsons.
"He’s no longer in pain," Janet Thayer said. "He’s now perpetually riding his motorcycle with the wind in his hair."