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Posted: April 17, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Local leader, business owner mourned

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Otis Spillers

Prominent Newton County resident Otis Spillers passed away April 14 at the age of 90, but not before he touched many lives in the community he had called home since 1935.

In his life Spillers held many public positions, including a two-term stint as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, as well a seat on the Covington City Council, chairman of Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority during its five-year organizational period, past president of the Newton County Chamber of Commerce, commander of the American Legion, Exalted Ruler of the Covington Elks Lodge #1806 and director of the Covington Businessman for 15 years.

He was a member of the Golden Fleece Lodge #6 for 63 years, the board of counselors for Oxford College, a member of the Yarrab Shriners Temple in Atlanta where he served on the director’s staff, the Covington Rotary Club for 63 years where he served on several committees as well as president at one time, chairman of the Empty Stocking Fund, head of the Covington/Newton County Recreation chairman, served as a chairman of the group to name all roads in Newton County and on the planning and zoning committee in Newton County.

Of all things he accomplished publically, many of his best accomplishments were those he did out of the public eye. According to his daughter Amelia Moseley, Spillers made it possible for many people in Newton County to have a place to call home.

"That’s the proudest I am of him out of all his accomplishments," she said. "Daddy made it possible for a lot of people to have a home that otherwise would have never had that chance. He did that more times than I could count – thousands of times."

A self made man, Spillers came to Covington from Roberta, Ga. in 1935 after he graduated high school to work for Pratt Lumber Company. In 1939 he joined the Navy and served in World War II for four years after which he returned to Newton County and married his wife Mary and continued to work in the lumber business. He graduated from Georgia Alabama Business College and Draughins Business School and began Spillers Lumber Company in 1947 where he worked every day up until his death.

He was also an avid golfer, having made seven holes-in-one, the first at 65-years-old, and he enjoyed fishing so much that he built a 7 acre lake in front of his home and kept it stocked with fish. Spillers was also perpetually positive. When asked how he was doing, Amelia said his standard reply was "I’m just right."

"He was a very easy person to love," said Amelia. "He was kind and a man of his word and we could just laugh together. We could just look at each other and not have to say a thing and break out laughing. We are all so fortunate to have been able to share his life, he was a mess," she said, laughing.

The Spillers family members all live close together and patriarch Otis Spillers, affectionately known as Dada, was able to share in the lives of his children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was also a favorite of their friends who would come and visit him as well.

"You just don’t see a lot of that anymore," said Amelia. "He was such a remarkable man and we are all just so lucky to have known him."

Caretaker Virginia Thomas had known Spillers roughly eight years and had cared for his late wife during a length illness, but in no time at all Spillers had made her feel like a member of the family.

"He was such a loving and caring man," she said. "He was always upbeat and positive and his family was definitely his number one priority."

Spillers’ heart failed while on dialysis last Friday but he was able to be resuscitated on the way to the hospital. After some tests were performed and doctors spoke with the family, Spillers’ children made the decision to take him off of life support Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. He passed away at 5:45 p.m., surrounded by the family he cherished.

"If death could be beautiful, his was," said son-in-law Gary Moseley.

Amelia added, "I lost my father Friday. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but Daddy wouldn’t have wanted to live like that. He passed away in a very dignified way. There was no pain, he simply stopped breathing."

The previous day Spillers and his daughter had spent the evening having dinner together and doing what they loved to do with one another – laughing.

"We are all so thankful that we had him for this many years," she said with a smile. "He was a mess but he was my heart."

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