George Maurice Farmer, a former federal agent for the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and a longtime supporter of Dalton High School, died Monday, Aug. 5. He was 83.
Services for George will be held on Friday, Aug. 9, at First Baptist Church of Dalton. Family and friends are invited to visit in the atrium of the church at 311 N. Thornton Ave. beginning at noon, with a service to follow in the sanctuary at 2 p.m.
George, the son of Maurice Breazeale and Rachelle Stanley Farmer, was born Sept. 5, 1935, in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He spent his formative years in Rocky Mount, however.
He loved to tell stories about growing up there and learning how to farm from his grandfather using just a plow and a mule. He gathered tobacco from the fields as a boy and rode on a steam engine with his father, who was a railroad worker for a time. He also told how he got a provisional driver’s license when he was just 14 years old and was able to deliver produce to market, helping his family.
“Even though I complained some at that time, I wouldn’t change anything, as I think the hard work helped me in my later life and established my work ethic,” he said in notes he jotted down before his death.
He excelled in football, basketball and baseball as a youth.
He learned how to cook whole hogs from his “Uncle” John. Over the years, George roasted pigs for the annual family reunion in Commerce, near Athens, staying up all night with family and friends to fire the grill, marinate the pork with his own special blend and make sure it was mouth-wateringly good.
Once as a boy, when he was out in the woods hunting squirrels with a friend, the two happened upon a moonshine still, and he told how agents with the Alcohol Tax Unit dropped by his home one night before they raided the site. Years later, he became a special agent himself, with posts in Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta and Macon.
Before joining the ATF, George served in the Army as a military police officer, with stints in Europe and Washington, D.C., during the Korean conflict.
He regaled family and friends alike with tales from the field as a revenuer, describing the details of stakeouts -- often unexpected, always hilarious -- or the lengths it took to catch moonshiners. When he was based in Macon, George he met a local student athlete, Tommy Hart. In time George became a fast friend and guide to Mr. Hart, who went on to a 12-year NFL career.
George and his wife, Mary Lee Farmer, moved to Dalton in 1972. George was head of a joint Dalton-Whitfield County drug task force for years. George also ran a private investigation company.
George was a big sports fan, and he loved to follow University of Georgia football. He also devoured books, especially those by W.E.B. Griffin.
He began helping former Dalton High School head football coach Bill Chappell in the early 1970s. Whether it was cooking meals for the players or driving the team bus, George delighted in pitching in for the team whenever and however he could. He was proud to be an unofficial coach for the team and spent many Friday nights watching the Catamounts play on Harmon Field at Bill Chappell Stadium -- or wherever they were playing.
He was a deacon, former usher and longtime member of First Presbyterian Church. Mary Lee and George moved their membership to First Baptist Church of Dalton in the mid-1990s to worship with the grandchildren.
Family meant everything to George, but it had a larger meaning to him than just those lucky enough to be kin through birth or marriage. His definition of family extended to a broader circle, especially to members of the Dalton High School football team, many of whom he took under his wing and kept in touch with throughout his life.
He was preceded in death by his parents and grandparents, Lamar and Mae Farmer and George and Hattie Stanley.
George is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Mary Lee Toney Farmer of Dalton, and his five daughters, Susan Rachelle Farmer of Milledgeville; Lynda Farmer Brown (Oby) of Macon; Laura Farmer Pugh (Craig) of Atlanta; Anne Farmer Brunner (Mark) of Gray; and Samantha Farmer Fromm (Rick) of Dalton. Also, grandchildren Megan Hickman McClung (Bradley) of Raleigh, N.C.; Matthew Hickman (Meredith Langley) of Macon; A.O. “Bo” Brown of Macon; Emma Langham Brown Dove (Nate) of Waynesboro, Va.; Brent Pugh (fiancé Mary Carter Thornton) of Atlanta; Reagan Fromm of Brooklyn, N.Y.; 1st Lt. Ethan Fromm of Twentynine Palms, Calif., and Colton Fromm of Dalton. The generations continue with great-grandchildren Zachary and Crosby McClung of Raleigh.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First Baptist Church of Dalton, PO Box 827, Dalton, GA 30722.
The family may be reached at 915 Brookwood Drive, Dalton, GA 30720.