Ron Wilson, a prominent Douglas County citizen who had a big heart for special needs children and a penchant for bringing countless businesses to the county, died late Thursday at his home. He was 74 years old.
Wilson served for nearly 20 years on the Douglas County Economic Development Authority. He was first appointed in 2001 and served as chairman of the Development Authority Board from 2007 until January of this year.
During Wilson’s tenure the Development Authority successfully recruited globally recognized companies such as Google, Medline Industries, WestRock, Stitch Fix, Switch and helped locally grown businesses expand including DeNyse Companies and Southwire. These projects created over 5,000 jobs and $5 billion in capital investment.
“Ron will be greatly missed,” said Chris Pumphrey, executive director of the Development Authority. “His contributions to our organization and many other organizations in Douglas County are numerous. He led us through the Great Recession with sheer determination to see Douglas County thrive in the recovery. He understood that in order for us to successfully recruit quality operations to Douglas County, a certain level of infrastructure was required and it is because of his steadfastness to improve infrastructure relating to fiber and telecom, Douglas County is now nationally recognized as a location for data centers and back office support.”
Pumphrey added: “Without Ron’s leadership and passion for this community, Douglas County would not be where it is today. But most importantly, I am grateful to have called him my friend, mentor, and confidant. He embraced me not only as the leader of this organization but a member of his family, believing in me before I believed in myself. On behalf of my team, of which he cared deeply for, a tremendous gratitude to his family for the impact he made on our lives.”
Wilson was named the 2014 Citizen of the Year by the Douglas County Chamber of Commerce.
Wilson was recognized by the Chamber for working for years to get special needs students a special education diploma. Prior to 1992, those students only received a certificate of attendance from Douglas County Schools.
Wilson started working with the Douglas County Special Olympics in the early 1980s. He recruited the Georgia Games and State Special Olympics to Douglas County in addition to serving on the board of directors.
“That dedication encouraged the school system to expand their special needs program and grow it to where it is today,” former Chamber Board Chairman Rosco Sayyar said in presenting Wilson the Citizen of the Year award.
Wilson grew up in Washington, D.C. and began his business career at age 10 delivering newspapers there. He lived with his five sisters and one brother and gave all but 10 cents of his route money to help out his single mother.
He also served as a volunteer fireman and in the U.S. Air Force.
Wilson was also a patent holder and entrepreneur. He founded Villa Rica-based Jourdan Technologies Inc., which according to the company’s website provides professional manufacturing and repair services for a wide range of Telecommunication and CATV cable placement, maintenance and splicing apparatus.
A Celebration of Life service will be scheduled at a later time, according to the Development Authority.