When Charlie Olliff Square was dedicated in 2014 in the parking lot of then Sea Island Bank in downtown Statesboro, Garrett Nevil, who was chairman of the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners at that time, said: "We all know that it would be an honor to have something named after you, but today I think it's an honor for Sea Island Bank to be able to dedicate this park in honor of Mr. Olliff."
The Statesboro and Bulloch County community lost an icon Friday morning with the passing of Charles Preetorius Olliff Jr. at the Ogeechee Area Hospice inpatient facility in Statesboro. Olliff was 100 years old.
"He was a leader for our community and our state," said Raybon Anderson. "I met Mr. Charlie in the late 1950s and it didn't take me long to figure out this was a man to follow in the way he conducted himself in business and in life. He was a mentor to me and I'm sure going to miss him. The world needs more Charlie Olliffs."
Olliff was born Sept. 30, 1917, to Myrtle Regina Smith Olliff and Charles Preetorius Olliff Sr. He attended Bulloch County Schools, Georgia Southern University, the University of Georgia and Draughons Business College in Atlanta.
In 1941, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and was trained as an aircraft armorer, then as a fighter pilot, and was discharged as first lieutenant in 1945.
After the military, Olliff managed retail and outlets in the liquefied petroleum business in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Also, for 20 years he was director of Candyland Inc., an interstate highway operation of restaurants, service stations and motels.
"I met Charlie when I moved to Statesboro in 1959," said Tal Calloway. "He was a great friend and a great gentleman. He joined our coffee club in 1963 when we met at Franklin's Rexall drug store, and we enjoyed dozens of golf trips together. Our city and county have lost a wonderful citizen."
Olliff became a member of First United Methodist Church in 1925, serving as secretary, finance chairman and chairman of the official board and member of the facility needs committee. He was active in the homebound communion ministry and met in a weekly morning-prayer group. He was a charter member of the Brunson-Simmons Sunday school class.
"I knew Charlie for more than 50 years," Ray Hendley said. "He set a very high standard of a life of integrity. He honored his Creator. He honored his country. And it was my honor he called me friend."
Olliff was director emeritus of Sea Island Bank at the time of his death and had served as a director since 1966.
He was a member of the Statesboro Rotary Club for more than 50 years. Olliff was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow, and the club named him its 2007 Citizen of the Year. In accepting the award in February 2007, Olliff offered a typically humble comment: "The award says it's for outstanding community service, and I don't know where I've been outstanding in any community service. I've just tried to live a good life."
And along those lines, Olliff was a recipient of a Deen Day Smith Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. In announcing his honor, Olliff was described as "having a life-long record of community involvement through church, civic and other groups ... as well as a life-long record of personal devotion to caring, sharing and helping others."
Olliff served on the board of Bulloch Memorial Hospital for 10 years and was a member of the board of directors of Second Chances of Statesboro. He was a co-leader for Ogeechee Area Hospice's Capital Campaign and the head of development on its board of directors.
"He's probably done more things quietly for other people than any other person around here," said Olliff's friend Bruce Yawn during the Charlie Olliff Square dedication.
Also, Yawn served on the Sea Island Bank board for many years with Olliff.
"My first memory of Charlie was when I met him as a 15-year-old and he treated me with the respect of an adult," Yawn said. "Charlie worked a lot behind the scenes that I think helped make Statesboro the progressive city it is today. He was a true southern gentleman."
The family will receive visitors on Monday from 5-7 p.m. at Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home in Statesboro.
The funeral service will be 11 a.m. Tuesday at First United Methodist Church of Statesboro with Rev. Jimmy Cason officiating. The body will lie in state one hour prior to the service.
Interment will follow in Eastside Cemetery.