COVINGTON, Ga. — Mort Ewing was most remembered recently for the pre-digital age item he used to take notes — yellow legal pads.
Current and former employers recalled he left piles of them wherever he worked, such as the farm he managed at the Burge Plantation Club in Mansfield, or his second career at Jones, Ewing, Dobbs & Tamplin (JEDT) insurance agency in Covington where he has worked since 1999.
A pack of the legal pads were among the not-so-serious gifts he received last week during a party at the Covington Lions Club building celebrating the 82-year-old Ewing’s retirement from the JEDT agency.
Guests included owners and employees of the multi-office agency, including such prominent names as former longtime state legislator Denny Dobbs and District 1 County Commissioner Stan Edwards, who will succeed Ewing at JEDT.
Doug Ewing, president of the agency and a second cousin to the honoree, led the event that included Mort Ewing receiving a variety of serious gifts.
One gift was a painting that alluded to his ownership of T.M. Ewing Farm, which continues his lineage as a sixth-generation farmer in Newton County.
Edwards recalled his longtime friendship with Mort Ewing, beginning with baling hay as a 16-year-old on Ewing’s farm.
“He nurtured me … took me into the agency,” said Edwards, who has served as the agency’s Covington office manager after a career with AT&T.
Outside the agency, though, Mort Ewing has been a major force in the state’s agricultural industry and local and state political arena — using his influence to bring to life major public works projects throughout Newton County.
He is a longtime leader in the Newton County Farm Bureau; served as state president and chief executive officer of the Georgia Farm Bureau; and served as vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation
He was instrumental in planning and obtaining funding for the Newton County Agricultural Center at the state FFA-FCCLA Center in Covington. It was dedicated in 2019 in his name.
Ewing won election to three terms on the Newton County Commission and worked behind the scenes in political campaigns for all levels of government.
He said he was among a group of five politically active residents who were looking for a candidate for the vacant District 1 commission seat in 2000. The other four decided Ewing should run, he said.
“My goal was to do the best I could for Newton County,” he said.
He said his proudest achievement was convincing then-County Chairman Aaron Varner to include funding from a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for renovation of the Historic Courthouse.
Ewing recalled the building being padlocked, the floors covered with garbage and calls for its destruction when he told Varner of the need for its renovation.
“He said, ‘If you think you can make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear, go ahead,’” Ewing said.
“I took it upon myself to generate support” he said.
The county included $4.3 million from the 2000 SPLOST for the project.
He noted Varner reminded him of the “silk purse” comment during the 2004 dedication of the renovation.
Ewing plans to retire but stay active in working on his 250-acre farm, which has produced beef cattle, hay, timber and more.
He said he also wants to spend more time with his wife of 60 years, Faye, and his sons Ben and John