Billy Hopper, county leader, dies at age 85



Billy Hopper, shown here seated in front of the historic Burke County Courthouse, where he spent most of his long career in public service.

Billy Hopper, shown here seated in front of the historic Burke County Courthouse, where he spent most of his long career in public service.

Former long-time Burke County Administrator Billy Hopper has died at the age of 85.

The Waynesboro native, a graduate of Waynesboro High School and Davidson College, served for eight years as the administrator for the City of Waynesboro and subsequently 28 years as Burke County Administrator.

He assumed the county post in the 1970s during the start up of Plant Vogtle and stayed until his retirement in 2001..

Retired Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey said this week that Hopper was “very knowledgeable about all county departments and helped me prepare my first budget for the sheriff’s office.”

“Billy helped plan and design the new law enforcement center after the county was sued for overcrowded conditions,” Coursey said.” He also credits Hopper with implementing the county’s retirement system for all employees. “He was liked and respected by everyone he worked with, not only locally, but throughout the state as well.”

Hopper also planned and implemented the remodeling of the historic court house and many other county facilities.

Merv Waldrop, current County Manager and Hopper’s successor, said Monday that “Billy Hopper was a dedicated public servant. Even after he retired in 2001, he still served the community on the county’s development authority for 16 years. He was the steady voice of reason throughout all my years of association with him, both in public life and at First Presbyterian Church where he served as an Elder.”

Waldrop added, “During his tenure as County Administrator he saw and adjusted to many changes in our community. He helped guide the County as we transitioned in many ways both politically and economically. Throughout all these changes he maintained a level head and served as a wise advisor to many. Burke County is definitely a better place because of Billy Hopper’s work. His influence on this community will continue to be felt for many years to come.”

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