Harry Ingram, who represented west Cobb on the commission from 1965 until 1970, died Friday at 86. Ingram was also a member of the county hospital authority board that helped build Cobb Hospital in Austell, as well as serving on the Smyrna City Council before joining the county commission.
“He lived a good, productive life,” said his son, attorney Robert Ingram of the Marietta firm of Moore, Ingram, Johnson & Steele.
But Harry Ingram’s greatest legacy might have been what he did after leaving the Board of Commissioners. An accountant with Sinclair Oil, he left the company in 1970 after they attempted to transfer him to Cleveland. He then resigned his part-time commissioner job to take over as the head of Cobb’s Revenue Collection Division. While he was now considered a subordinate to the commissioners he had been on equal footing with, Harry Ingram still had great influence over the county.
During his 20 years in county administration, he worked with then-Chairman Ernest W. Barrett, considered an architect of modern Cobb, to expand the water and sewer pipeline grid to meet demand in what would become the fastest growing county in Georgia.
“He and Ernest were best friends,” Robert Ingram said. “They were the ones who had the vision to lay the water lines in Cobb County. This allowed Cobb County to have such growth in the ’70s and ’80s.”
State Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb) said he first met Harry Ingram in 1970. He agreed that Harry Ingram played a key role in building the county.
“It’s hard to get people to move to your county if you can’t provide water and sewer to them,” Tippins said.
Harry Ingram, who served in the Navy in World War II, also went with Barrett on a 1966 trip to the Dallas area, where they helped lure a new Six Flags theme park to Cobb, according a 1987 MDJ story.
In 1982, Ingram was named Cobb’s first county administrator after a citizen review panel recommended creating the position. A year later, the Cobb legislative delegation changed the county from a full-time commission chairman form of government to a county manager form. While he was asked to serve as county manager, Harry Ingram opted to instead become the manager of the Cobb Water System, a position he held until 1990.
When former east Cobb Commissioner Tommy Brown died at 80 in 2010, Harry Ingram became the last surviving member of the original five-member Board of Commissioners (the county had previously been served by a single-commissioner form of government) that had first been elected in 1964. Along with Barrett, Bill Oliver of east Cobb and Al Burruss of west Cobb had previously died.
Tippins called Harry Ingram a “genuine person.”
“The entire county ought to be expressing their condolences,” he said. “He was certainly one of the ones in the transitional time for Cobb County that played an awfully big role in making Cobb County what it is today.”
Like Barrett, Harry Ingram grew up in what is now the Town Center area, eventually selling his property to a developer who built a shopping center that now includes a Marshalls and Olive Garden. His father, Ernest Ingram, helped start Greers Chapel Baptist Church just west of the family farm. Harry Ingram’s funeral will be at 3 p.m. today at the same church, where he remained a member. His body will lie in state there from 2 to 3 p.m.
A third-generation Cobb resident, Harry Ingram left a mark beyond local government. He helped organize several Kiwanis Club chapters, including Marietta Golden K Kiwanis Club, the Marietta Lost Mountain Kiwanis Club, the Covered Bridge Kiwanis and the Kiwanis Club of Kennworth. He helped launch several programs designed to build character in young people.
“He loved Cobb County and he loved serving others,” Robert Ingram said.
Robert Ingram said his father also loved the church and hunting.
“I’m going to miss his sage and wise counsel,” he said. “He was always someone good when you had a problem to bounce stuff off of. He was able to guide you to the right solution.”