The Greatest Atlanta Mayor you’ve probably never heard of
A few years ago I was looking for a few profiles of military service members to use as examples of the sacrifices military people make. As I dug through old pictures of the Bell Bomber Plant in Marietta, I found a posed picture of several dapper looking gentlemen, hats all propped at the proper jaunty angle. Little did I know how great the story of one particular man in the picture really was.
One of the men in the picture was the Mayor Of Atlanta, Roy LeCraw. As I researched Mayor LeCraw further, I saw that he had actually defeated a very well known Atlanta Mayor, William B. Hartsfield, in the Mayoral election held in November 1941.
The story seemed even more intriguing when I saw the length of Mayor LeCraw’s time in elected office. Mayor Roy LeCraw resigned in May of 1942 after being sworn in earlier that year. As it turns out, he resigned from elected office so he could fulfill a call to go to war.
Mayor Roy LeCraw was also known, in Georgia National Guard circles, as Major Roy LeCraw.
He was not new to military service and the possibilities of deployment. He was also not new to public service and running for elected office. Regardless, as he campaigned against incumbent Hartsfield throughout the summer of 1941, he surely could not have fathomed the dilemma his challenger victory would soon create.
Shortly after defeating Hartsfield, as we now know, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, on the day that lives in infamy. In an instant, LeCraw’s two separate worlds collided as the Country was drawn into WWII.
It’s only speculation on my part, but I’m sure the days between Early December 1941 and May 25, 1942 were challenging ones for LeCraw, to say the least.
Ongoing Mayoral issues of the day aside, I’m sure LeCraw knew what the resolution to his conflict of service roles would be. His call to military service would come, and there would only be one answer for a man of honor.
History now tells us the rest of the story.
Mayor Hartsfield ended up serving longer than anyone as Atlanta’s Mayor, serving over a quarter of a century in office. He led Atlanta through challenging times of desegregation. He is probably best known for having the world’s busiest airport named after him and also for coining the phrase, “Atlanta- The City too busy to hate”.
As for LeCraw- you might not be as familiar with that part of history. Major LeCraw’s military service took him to the front lines of battle throughout Europe during World War II. His service in Europe earned him a Bronze Star. He returned to the States, at War’s end, to try and fail at regaining his former Mayoral position. Ironically, he lost an election bid to Hartsfield in a resounding defeat. Not to be denied, he later ran for a State Senate seat and won, serving one term.
Lecraw returned to military service in Korea several years later where he earned a second Bronze Star. After serving in Korea in the military, LeCraw and his wife Julia later returned as missionaries. The LeCraws had 5 sons, all of whom graduated from The North Avenue Trade School (also known as Georgia Tech).
In dedication and memoriam to Mayor LeCraw’s service to his city and state, a gas lamp was placed at 2970 Peachtree Rd, in the heart of Buckhead. The Buckhead business community placed it there and you can find the lamp, still burning brightly with two flames, to this very day.
Roy LeCraw’s life of service was, unquestionably, a response to a higher calling. He was rewarded with a fruitful blessing of family and fiscal reward. Over the years, we may have forgotten the name, but surely we can’t forget the indelible mark the LeCraw family made for service… to God and Country.
In closing – if you’d like to hear an incredible 20 minute testimony, in Roy LeCraw’s own words… you can find a link below. I think he’ll bless you with his wisdom, just like he’s done for me in many, many ways.