ALBANY, Ga. -- Paul Keenan, one of Southwest Georgia's most widely known public and business personalities, died Tuesday at the age of 90.
Keenan, who lived on Old Dawson Road in Albany, died at Willson Hospice House. Funeral arrangements will be announced by Kimbrell-Stern Funeral Directors.
Keenan had an 18-year political career, including serving four years as mayor of the city of Albany. He was the city's top elected official during the Flood of 1994. He served 14 years on the Dougherty County Commission, serving as chairman.
"He was such an ambassador for Albany, Ga." said Jeff Sinyard, chairman of the Dougherty County Commission. "He was instrumental in a little bit of everything, always working on transportation issues trying to get Albany to the next level."
Because of that interest in transportation, state and local officials conducted a ceremony last year naming a portion of State Highway 3 the Paul Keenan Parkway.
"He was a very dedicated, serving and giving person," Sinyard continued. "He was just a good person. We will miss him. He came from a special generation that did so many special things."
A practicing attorney for numerous years, Keenan made his biggest splash in the business world when he took over the family business, Keenan Auto Parts, in 1961.
The auto parts company was based in Albany but had retail outlets sprinkled across Southwest Georgia. He sold the business in 1990 to General Parts of Raleigh, N.C.
The company's headquarters building was the historic Bridge House on the Flint River in downtown Albany. That structure was donated to Dougherty County by Keenan and now serves as Albany's Welcome Center.
Albany attorney and former Mayor Tommy Coleman credited Keenan for helping direct Albany during its golden period of growth in the 1960s and 1970s.
"I don't know anyone who had a greater impact on the city and county during that period," Coleman said.
Albany Mayor Willie Adams called Keenan "a dedicated community servant who ran the city in a very business-like fashion."
Keenan was born in Albany on Nov. 15, 1920. He graduated from Albany High School and later obtained his law degree from Emory University School of Law. His college education was interrupted by a three-year tour in the U.S. Army at the outbreak of World War II.
While he was in law school at Emory, Keenan met Lucile Kennison Wells of Atlanta, who later became his wife. The Keenans graduated from law school and moved to Albany where Keenan and Stewart Watson formed the law firm of Watson and Keenan in 1948.
Although his wife finished second in her law school graduating class, she did not practice law in Albany, instead choosing to raise her family.
Because of health issues with his father, Keenan began phasing out his law career in 1961 and took over the family business.
State Rep. Carol Fullerton, who has been a friend of the Keenan family for about three decades, said Keenan was "a fine man, a fine gentleman."
"He was someone I could go to and reflect on any issue that might be pertinent at the time," Fullerton said. "He was always good counsel."