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Gov. Nathan Deal proclaims Wednesday Howard Bo Callaway Day in Georgia

Howard Hollis “Bo” Callaway Sr. is seen in this undated handout photo released by Callaway Gardens to Reuters on Sunday. Callaway, who served as secretary of the Army after becoming the first Republican from Georgia elected to the U.S. House of Representatives since the Civil War, died on March 15, 2014 at age 86. Callaway died in Columbus (Reuters)

Howard Hollis “Bo” Callaway Sr. is seen in this undated handout photo released by Callaway Gardens to Reuters on Sunday. Callaway, who served as secretary of the Army after becoming the first Republican from Georgia elected to the U.S. House of Representatives since the Civil War, died on March 15, 2014 at age 86. Callaway died in Columbus (Reuters)

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U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, said Bo Callaway was a big influence as he developed his own political philosophies. Chambliss said he sought Callaway out and that he was a mentor during his career. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)

ALBANY — Flags will be flown at half-staff on Wednesday in honor of the late Howard “Bo” Callaway.

Gov. Nathan Deal issued the order Monday declaring Wednesday as Howard “Bo” Callaway Day in Georgia. He has ordered that flag throughout the state be flown at half-staff throughout the day.

“Few individuals throughout our history can match the legacy that Bo Callaway left on Georgia politics,” Deal said. “Bo blazed a trail that led to the dramatic growth of the Georgia GOP, which went from virtually nonexistent when he ran for governor to holding every statewide elected office today.

“Bo stood up for what he believed in, even when the odds and the political system were stacked against him. Georgians are all the better for it. Sandra and I send our deepest sympathies to the Callaway family.”

Callaway died on Saturday at age 86 from complications of a cerebral hemorrhage he suffered in 2012.

Callaway, in 1964 the first Republican sent to Congress from Georgia since Reconstruction, lost the 1966 gubernatorial race despite winning a plurality of the vote. The general election pitted Callaway, the first Republican to run for Georgia governor since 1876, against Lester Maddox, but former governor Ellis Arnall mounted an independent campaign after losing to Maddox in the Democratic primary.

Arnall siphoned off enough votes to throw the decision to the General Assembly. The combined Georgia House and Senate elected Maddox by a 182-66 vote, with more than 30 Democratic lawmakers backing Callaway.

In a meeting Monday with The Albany Herald Editorial Board, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, noted the influence that Callaway had on his political career.

“Number one,” Chambliss said, “he was a dear friend, a mentor and someone I got to know early in my career by design.”

Georgia’s senior senator, who will end his congressional career when his term of office expires at the end of the year, said he was a law school students when he became aware of Callaway, who was trying to gain the governor’s office in a state that was dominated by Democrats. He said Callaway helped him formulate his own feelings about being a conservative.

Had Callaway won the governor’s seat in 1966, Chambliss said, he would have brought a great deal of energy and business acumen to the state capital.

“He was a young aggressive leader with good ideas,” Chambliss said.

In addition to being a “strong businessman,” the senator added, Callaway was “one of the nicest guys I ever met.”