Former LaGrange Mayor Gene Woodall passes

Published 5:46 pm Thursday, October 24, 2019

Former LaGrange Mayor Gene Woodall passed away Monday at the age of 94.  

“He was an excellent mayor,” said former Councilman Bobby Traylor, who served on the LaGrange City Council all four years of Woodall’s term. “He put the citizens of LaGrange first. He didn’t work for the city. He worked for the voters who put him in office.”

Woodall served as mayor from 1994-1998. 

While he was mayor, the first consideration was given to the city having districts, rather than choosing council members at large, according to Clark Johnson of the Troup County Archives.

Johnson said there’s one story where Woodall wanted to earmark a portion of the property tax for sidewalks but was informed the streets were much worse. More than $800,000 was spent during a two-year period during Woodall’s tenure resurfacing streets and paving dirt roads.  

Woodall also joined in the recognition of LaGrange being named a Tree City on Arbor Day in 1997. He and city workers planted a tree on Broad Street, according to the archives. 

In summer of 1997 while Woodall was mayor, LaGrange was one of the pit stops for the Great American Race, a race of antique cars. The city was awarded $5,000 from race participants who voted LaGrange the Greatest Pit Stop. The story is on file at the archives.  

Kay Durand was the first female city council member in LaGrange and served four of her 10 years alongside Woodall. She remembered the aftermath of the Milliken Live Oak fire, that affected not only the company and jobs, but the surrounding neighborhood.  

“It involved trustbuilding with the neighborhood, so residents would not be in danger of impact from any future fire,” Durand said. 

Durand said the city needed to have a barrier between the neighborhood and the plant, so some homes were removed and residents relocated.  

“We had regular meetings in the neighborhood church about a lot of work that had to be done, so that neighbors could have a voice in what was going on,” Durand said. 

Woodall also served as a member of the Optimist Club and was chairman of the Troup County Republicans.  

“He was a man of integrity,” Councilman Willie Edmondson said. “He was like a good bulldog — when he put his teeth in something, he would go to the very end. He had that type of tenacity.”

According to his obituary, Woodall retired from Milliken as an industrial engineer and served his country in the United States Navy during World War II. A service in his memory was held on Wednesday at Striffler-Hamby Mortuary.