Samuel Burney Hay, Jr. was born in Opelika, Alabama in 1932, the third child and only son of Frances Dearing Hay of Covington, and the Reverend Samuel Burney Hay, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Covington, from 1923 until 1926. Sam spent the first sixteen years of his life in Auburn, “The Loveliest Village On The Plains” and learned “War Eagle!” early on, witnessing many Auburn football games at a tender age. He then became a handsome gridiron star at Auburn High and Tuscaloosa High in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he supported his father’s presidency of Stillman College during the civil rights era. Following graduation from Tuscaloosa High, he went to Auburn University on a football scholarship. A back injury during Sam’s freshman year prevented his playing football the remainder of his college career, although he continued to serve as an enthusiastic team manager while majoring in animal husbandry.
Following graduation from Auburn in 1955, Sam returned to his mother’s family farm in Covington, and in 1959 married Louly Trippe Fowler of Covington. Making their lifelong home in Covington, Sam and Louly became parents of Buncie, Sam III, Florence and Louly.
For over fifty years Sam farmed in Newton County, with a dairy herd in his younger years, followed by a registered Angus herd for the remainder of his life. He received many awards and was elected to positions in the field of agriculture, including the highest performing dairy herd in Georgia and President of the Georgia Cattleman’s Association which named him to its Hall of Fame in 2014. He also served as director of the Georgia Agribusiness Council and founding director of the Georgia Agri-Trust.
Sam was active in agricultural construction and equipment sales and service throughout the 1960’s and 70’s and later founded Sunbelt Builders, Inc., specializing in commercial construction. The business received the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce Dick James Small Business of the Year Award in 1999. In 2007, Sam received the R.O. Arnold Award for highest community service. He was also an active member of the Covington Kiwanis Club and was recognized in 1995-96 as Kiwanian of the Year.
One of Sam’s most pivotal roles in the Newton County community was his service as a member of the Newton County Board of Education from 1970 until 1982. With a passion for social justice, he provided leadership when the Newton County public schools were integrated, acting as a mediator among community leaders to effect change.
Sam served as a ruling elder of the Presbyterian Church (USA) for over fifty years on the local, Presbytery, and General Assembly levels. As a visionary leader of First Presbyterian Church of Covington, he chaired many expansion and community outreach endeavors.
Sam is survived by his wife of 58 years, Louly Trippe Fowler Hay; his four children: Sarah Burney “Buncie” Hay Lanners, and husband, Jay; Samuel Burney Hay III and wife, Loucy; Florence Fowler Hay Luranc and husband, Joe; and Louly Turner Hay-Kapp, and husband, Steve; his seven grandchildren: Jay Thomas Lanners, Jr., Sarah Louisa Lanners, Samuel Burney Hay IV, Kathryn Allred “Allie” Hay, Louisa Trippe Luranc, Joseph John Luranc, Jr., and Samuel Hutson Luranc; his sister Martha Hay Vardeman and husband Burt, cousins John Dearing and Lin Dearing, many nieces and nephews special to him, and his beloved English Springer Spaniel, Lucky.
Funeral services for Mr. Hay will be held at 11 o’clock Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at the First Presbyterian Church of Covington with Reverend Doctor William B. Wade, Jr. officiating. Interment will follow at Covington City Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the Hay residence from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. In lieu of flowers those desiring may make donations to the First Presbyterian Church of Covington, 1169 Clark St., SW, Covington, GA 30014. J.C. Harwell and Son Funeral Home, 2157 East St., SE, Covington, GA 30014 is in charge of the arrangements. A guest book may be signed on-line www.harwellfuneralhome.com.