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Former Sandersville Railroad leader Hugh Tarbutton dies

Hugh Tarbutton, who for more than 60 years served the Sandersville Railroad Co., including a long stint as president, died Jan. 7. He was 82.

A life-long resident of Sandersville, Ga., Tarbutton joined the short line in 1955 after earning a bachelor's degree in business administration at the Emory University School of Business. He also was co-founder and co-owner of B-H Transfer Co.

Tarbutton's father Ben laid the groundwork for the industrial development of the Sandersville Railroad, which operates 32 miles of track, including 10 miles of mainlines with a Norfolk Southern Railway interchange in Tennille, Ga. After their father died in 1962, Hugh and his brother Ben Jr. assumed the responsibility for running the short line. Hugh Tarbutton's greatest passion was always railroading, family members wrote in his obituary.

"He never tired of working to make the Sandersville Railroad a better service provider to its customers," they wrote. "He often joked that he probably had more years of continuous railroad service than any person in the Railroad Retirement System and he is likely correct. If you knew him, you know that he loved every minute of it."

In addition to his work in the transportation industry, Tarbutton was active in real estate development and timberland acquisition and management. He developed Kaolin Plaza Shopping Center, the first shopping center in Washington County, Ga.

Tarbutton also served on several boards, including Farm Credit, Bibb Mills, Savannah Foods & Industries Inc., the Central of Georgia Railway Co., Citizens & Southern Capital Corp., Citizens & Southern National Bank, C&S-Sovereign Trust Co. and NationsBank of Georgia. In addition, he served on the advisory boards for NS and Southern Railway Co.

Tarbutton worked tirelessly to foster job creation and industrial development in Washington County to expand the tax base and bring better opportunities to its citizens, family members said. He was a founding member and original officer of the Sandersville-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, served as a board member for the Washington County Hospital Authority, the Department of Family and Children’s Services Board, and for many years chaired the Washington County Development Authority.

Tarbutton is survived by his wife of 53 years, Loulie; four children; and eight grandchildren. In lieu of flowers the family asks that memorials be made to any of the following:
• Sandersville United Methodist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 611, Sandersville, GA 31082
• Boys & Girls Club of CSRA, 206 Milledge Road, Augusta, GA 30904
• Oxford College at Emory University, 711 Emory Street, Oxford, GA 30054
• Brentwood School, P.O. Box 955, Sandersville, GA 31082
• Rosa M. Tarbutton Library, P.O. Box 268, Sandersville, GA 31082
• Young Harris College, P.O. Box 68, Young Harris, GA 30582

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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