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Locals remember 'Mr. Paul' Nessmith
Paul E. Nessmith - photo by Special
    Former Georgia Rep. and Bulloch County native Paul E. Nessmith is remembered by friends as a dedicated man who stood up for agriculture during his years in legislature. Nessmith, 99, died Wednesday under hospice care at his home in the Westside community.
    "He was so dedicated to his community," said state Rep. Bob Lane. "When he gave up office, he continued to be involved, making sure we carried on his legacy. That doesn't happen very often."
    Lane's father, Jones Lane, and Nessmith were both honored when Georgia Southern University's named the Nessmith-Lane Continuing Education Building for them, in recognition of their support of education and for the university's need for the facility.
    Nessmith was active up until recent years, calling Lane and others to make sure issues important to him were addressed.
    "He still wanted to make sure his thoughts were heard," he said.
    Nessmith is known as a native Bulloch Countian, but moved to Cave Springs as a child, then moved to Detroit, Michigan until 1935. His roots called and he returned to farm in Bulloch County.
    Agriculture was his passion, and he introduced a great deal of legislation that helped farmers, said former Bulloch County agent and Nessmith's neighbor, Bobby Deal.
    "He was just a great Bulloch Countian in all ways," he said. "He was one of  the better farmers over the years, an outstanding citizen and great state representative.  He (authored) a lot of laws for farmers."
    Smith was "very much an advocate for agriculture and a good solid lifestyle," said Bill Smith, former Bulloch County Commissioner and farmer. "He made no exceptions. He encouraged folks to live right and behave the way they should. If  they didn't, he was on their case."
    Nessmith gathered many honors over the years.  In 1957, Ga. Gov. Marvin Griffin appointed him to the Agricultural Commodities Authority. In 1961 Progressive Farmer magazine presented Nessmith's family with the Master Farm Family Award.  In 1969,  he received the Georgia Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Service Award.
Deserving, dedicated, and involved
    Nessmith was deserving of the honors, said Warren Ball, who met Nessmith when he moved to Bulloch County and bought a farm in the Westside community in 1981.
    Nessmith " and several other Westsiders took me in as one of  their own," Ball said. "He was a prince of a man ... a true statesman. You knew where he stood on issues. You could take his word on a hand shake and that is  the way he did business."
    Nessmith became president of the Statesboro Federal Land Bank Association in 1962 and held that office for 17 years.
    In 1963, he was elected as representative for the 82nd district in the Georgia House of Representatives, a position he held until 1980.
     One of his most notable accomplishments as state representative was the introduction of legislation to remove sales tax from farm machinery.
    "Nobody has done more for legislature that has affected agriculture," Smith said. "He was a very forward thinker."
    Nessmith was a very active  and  successful farmer and livestock producer who took his involvement in agriculture further by serving as chairman of the Southeastern Peanut Advisory Committee; supervisor of the Ogeechee River Soil and Water Conservation District for over 21 years and member of the Georgia Surface Mine Land User Board and the State Advisory Committee for Vocational Agriculture.
     Mr. Nessmith was awarded an Honorary Life Member of the Bulloch County Young Farmers and was honored by the naming of a portion of U.S. Highway 25 as the Paul E. Nessmith Parkway.
    "He was a great individual and he will be truly missed, not only by his family, but by the community and all who knew him," Lane said.
    "He was a great leader and did a lot for Bulloch County. We will miss him," Deal said. "He enjoyed going to the Portal Hunting Club and loved a good hound dog. "
    Nessmith was a member of the Portal Hunting Club. He was also a member and deacon of  Bethel Baptist Church.

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