Friday, January 04, 2013

Hugh Gillis: Georgia's Longest Serving Lawmaker

At the time of his retirement in 2004, Hugh Gillis was the longest serving member of the Georgia General Assembly. He passed away on New Year's Day 2013 at the age of 94.

Gillis was born in Soperton, Georgia on September 6, 1918. He was the grandson of Treutlen County founder and state representative Neil Gillis, the son of state senator and highway commissioner Jim L. Gillis, and brother of Jim L. Gillis, Jr. Gillis attended Georgia Military College, and in 1939 received an undergraduate degree in agriculture from the University of Georgia.

In 1941, he ran successfully for the Georgia House of Representatives. He served two terms, one from 1941 to 1944, and the other from 1949 to 1956. Meanwhile, he started his own company, Gillis Ag and Timber. Gillis was elected twice to the Georgia Senate, the first time in 1957, and the second in 1962. He would hold that seat for the next forty-two years, making him the longest-serving member of the Georgia General Assembly. In the senate, he was elected president pro tempore, and served on the Appropriations Committee. Working to bring doctors to rural communities, Gillis was influential in the creation of the dental school at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. He also served as head of the Natural Resources Committee, a seat which he held until his retirement in 2004.

In 2008, Bob Short interviewed Gillis for the Russell Library's Reflections on Georgia Politics oral history series. 

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