Friends and family gather in remembrance local icon, Jake Behr
Published 7:30 am Saturday, January 28, 2023
Jake Behr, a friend to all and publisher of the former Round and Bout magazine, will be laid to rest on Saturday.
Behr, who passed away on Nov. 28, was 85 years old. Friends and family will remember a man Saturday who lived a life filled with comradery, leadership and goodwill toward his friends and family.
Known for his civic work and networking skills, Behr is best known for his takeover of the longtime LaGrange publication, ‘Round and ‘Bout. Behr expanded the eight-page welcome brochure to a quarterly 50-plus page book, highlighting events and businesses in the greater Troup County community.
Laura Jennings, executive director of the LaGrange Museum, said Behr was like the unofficial “mayor of LaGrange.”
“No one will ever be more plugged into anything and everything going on in the community,” Jennings said. “Even when he was homebound, he worked social media, emails and texts like an air traffic controller of encouraging messages, community news, breaking college football news — you name it, he was on it.”
Bill Hunnicutt, executive director of Downtown LaGrange Development Authority, said he will remember Behr as being the poster child for what a true “community first” minded person looks like.
“He loved LaGrange and LaGrange loved him back,” Hunnicutt said. “I appreciate all the hard work he put into our beloved town and will miss him dearly.”
Hunnicutt said in Behr’s early years he learned to love the people of LaGrange from serving them in his parent’s clothing shops on Main St. in Downtown LaGrange.
“In his later years, owning the Round and ‘Bout was a perfect gig for Jake,” Hunnicutt said. “It allowed him to connect with all the citizens, help them promote their businesses and promote all the great events happening in and around our town. It also kept Jake involved with many different organizations that allowed him the opportunity of networking and connecting people and organizations that could benefit our community — that was his passion.”
Behr’s daughter, Reisha Behr Holton, said to her and her brothers, Jeffery and Richard, Behr was a master in communication, and they try to emulate those actions today.
“As we got older, we would mirror behaviors we saw daddy do. Instinctively, we would connect with a waitress or other service workers by asking for and using their name in conversation with them or extend a hand and greet others with his signature firm handshake,” Holton said.
“Daddy called them soft skills and talked about them often. He taught us how to treat others – with respect, consideration, dignity and in return, he received that back from us as his children.”
Holton describes her father as a storyteller and said Behr would often make the effort to learn about others.
“He would describe in precise detail the origins of his relationships with just about everyone,” Holton said. “We would learn the history of our family, but also how other families in LaGrange came to be a part of the larger community landscape that he called home. His connections ran deep, and he instilled in us the importance of relationships and people.”
Behr also taught them the value of work.
“Work was his sport,” Holton said. “His persistence and diligence are legacies that we cherish forever.”
Jeffery said his father was always full of life every day until the very end.
“He loved his family, adored all his friends, and loved his hometown LaGrange, Georgia,” Jeffery said. “It’s fitting that this will be his resting place. As children, we loved visiting here and will cherish our memories of visiting with him.”
Zelda Tenenbaum describes her older brother as someone who was always responsible.
“I remember he would get us up in the mornings for school, serve us breakfast and walk us to kindergarten on his way to high school every day,” Tenenbaum said. “He was just that kind of brother and person always loving his family and being of service to others in his community.”
Tenenbaum said family, service and community were a part of Behr’s essence as a person.
“Both of our parents were very community-focused people who cared about others and did what they could to make the lives of others better. We had good role models and Jake continued to be that role model,” Tenenbaum said
Dr. John Beyers, senior minister of LaGrange First United Methodist Church, said Behr had a heart for the community and wanted to connect the church with it.
“He had a heart for people who hurt spiritually and believed that First Methodist was a place where they could find a safe place to explore their spirituality and bring their hurt before God,” Beyers said.
Beyers said Behr was essential in starting the church’s annual, “Evening to Give Thanks” 12 years ago.
“That continues every year because of Jake’s impetus,” Beyers said. ” Although Jake was not able to attend [recently] because of his increasing breathing challenges, we live streamed and spoke directly to Jake over the broadcast, thanking him for setting the standard, having a heart for the community and engaging people with hope.”
Behr’s giving spirit shows in all the organizations he was involved in. He served on the Camp Viola and Troup County Historical Society Board of Directors, served on the LaGrange Troup County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors as Membership Committee Chair and was named Diplomat of the Year in 2012.
Behr’s memorial service will be held Saturday at noon at First United Methodist Church, located at 401 Broad Street.
In place of flowers, the family asks to consider contributing in Behr’s name to LaGrange First United Methodist Church, The Gideons International LaGrange Chapter, Congregation Beth El (firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 3813, LaGrange, GA 30241), or a nonprofit organization of your choice.