Longtime farms chief Tommy Irvin dies

Tommy Irvin, a former agriculture commissioner who was the longest-serving statewide official in Georgia history, died on Thursday. He was 88. 

Irvin served in public office for more than a half-century, including 42 years as Georgia’s top agriculture official. Details about his death have not been released, but Irvin had suffered from Parkinson’s disease and other ailments. 

Irvin family spokeswoman Brenda James Griffin said in a statement Friday he was a “giant of a man” who leaves behind an unparalleled legacy.

“The state of Georgia, especially the agriculture community, and our nation have greatly benefitted from the tremendous leadership of Tommy Irvin,” said Griffin. “He will be remembered for his ingenuity and dedication.”

RELATED: Read and sign the online guestbook for Tommy Irvin

In Politically Georgia: Tommy Irvin was a mentor to Zell Miller

RELATED: Tommy Irvin’s life and legacy

Irvin was born in rural Hall County in 1929, the son of a tenant farmer who also worked at local sawmills. His family later moved to nearby White County. He met his wife, Bernice, while attending a fair and they were married in 1947. 

A Democrat, Irvin was elected to his first public office – a local school board – in 1956. He later served four terms in the state House and was manager of Gov. Lester Maddox’s gubernatorial campaign in 1966. Three years later, Maddox appointed him as Commissioner of Agriculture.

He was re-elected 10 times, and still holds the record as the nation’s longest-serving state ag chief.

He decided not to run for re-election in 2010, and Republican Gary Black – who unsuccessfully challenged Irvin in 2006 – won the post. In a statement Friday, Black said his commitment to education and agriculture put a “strong and admirable exclamation point on his life’s work.”

“Commissioner Irvin loved serving Georgia’s farmers and consumers for over three generations,” said Black. “He touched us all with his unsurpassed spirit of stewardship, commitment and work ethic.”

In other news:

Next Up in Local

Q&A on the News

Q: Why isn’t the Georgia Dome implosion being done on Sunday? A weekday event disrupts so much of the area. —Dan Wolbe, Sandy Springs A: Today was selected for the implosion because there was an event in the Georgia World Congress Center through Sunday evening, Holly Richmond, director of communications for the Georgia World Congress Center...
Fulton County restaurant inspection scores

Fulton County • Fish Bowl Poke Shop, 61 Broad St., Atlanta. 92/A • La Tavola, 992 Virginia Ave., Atlanta. 96/A • Loca Luna, 550 Amsterdam Ave., Atlanta. 98/A • Minero at Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave., Atlanta. 91/A • Taco Cowboy, 1000 Virginia Ave., Atlanta. 96/A
DeKalb County restaurant inspection scores

DeKalb County • Argosy, 470 Flat Shoals Ave., Atlanta. 85/B • Daallo Restaurant, 5047 Memorial Drive, Stone Mountain. 87/B • Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, 1238 DeKalb Ave., Atlanta. 96/A • Lucky Thai Restaurant, 1594 Woodcliff Drive, Atlanta. 74/C • Marlie’s Kitchen, 5978 Fairington Road, Lithonia. 93/A
Cobb County restaurant inspection scores

Cobb County • Art’s Bagels & More, 3451 Cobb Parkway, Acworth. 99/A • C&S Seafood & Oyster Bar, 3300 Cobb Parkway, Atlanta. 90/A • Chris’ Caribbean Bistro, 4479 S. Cobb Drive, Smyrna. 73/C • Yellow Tail Sushi, 745 Chastain Road, Kennesaw. 76/C • Zeigler’s BBQ, 3451 Cobb Parkway, Acworth. 100/A
Rockdale County restaurant inspection scores

Rockdale County • Baan Thai Restaurant, 1745 Highway 138, Conyers. 93/A • Chili’s, 1570 Dogwood Drive, Conyers. 96/A • Five Guys, 1550 Highway 138, Conyers. 100/A • Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, 2275 Highway 20, Conyers. 82/B • Main Moon Chinese Restaurant, 1573 Highway 20, Conyers. 89/B
More Stories