PELHAM - Bernie Pye, 85, of Pelham, GA passed away on Friday, October 18, 2013 at his residence. Born on June 1,1928 in Bulloch Co., GA to the late Joseph Harry and Bertha Lee Kirby Pye, he was a retired fire safety specialist. He was a member of the Hand Memorial United Methodist Church and was a veteran of the U. S. Army, entering in 1948 and serving during the Korean conflict and the Vietnam War. He was a Master Parachutist and was recognized for his superior marksmanship. After serving in the military for 21 years, he moved to the Pelham area where he worked for TBR Homes, ultimately serving as Plant Manager. He led the efforts to restore and renovate the Park Plaza Civic Center in Pelham and served as Manager until he began work with the State Fire Marshall’s Office in 1977. He served on Pelham’s Bicentennial Committee in 1976 as a representative for the American Legion.
Due to two years of persistent effort by Bernie, Pelham City Hall has a 60 ft. flagpole that was dedicated during the Centennial celebration in 1981. This flagpole was originally erected at Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville. Bernie was given the honor of raising the first flag on the pole during the Centennial celebrations.
He has been a member of the American Legion Smith-Spcnce Post #144 since 1970 and has served as Post Commander three times and was honored as Mr. Legionnaire. He formerly served as Judge Advocate and Chairman of the Americanism Committee, plus coordinated the Boys State Program for the local post and also served as a Jr. Vice Commander for the District.
He was selected as the outstanding employee for District 5 of the State Fire Marshall’s Office in 1984 and was recognized for his patriotism and love of the American Flag in a front page article in the State of Georgia Personnel Newsletter in 1993.
Bernie was an active member of Hand Memorial United Methodist Church and former chairman of the Board of Trustees. He was a member of the United Methodist Men and an Honorary Member of the United Methodist Women. A flag was presented in his honor in 1991 for 18 years of service as Chairman of Building and Grounds. He also received a special recognition award from the Hand Memorial Pre-School Program recognizing his help with the program and his love of the children. He served on the Hispanic Ministry Committee for the Camilla-Pelham Area and transported Hispanics for many years to services at the Sale City Hispanic Mission. He retired from the Fire Marshal’s Office in 1995 and began full time volunteer work. He was an Olympic Torch Bearer in the 1996 Olympics. He also served on the Mitchell County Olympics Committee. The Mitchell County Bar Association awarded Bernie the “Liberty Bell Award” in 1997 in recognition of his love for his country and efforts to promote the American Flag. He was chosen as a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Award by the Pelham Rotary Club in 1997. A long time blood donor, he was recognized for his efforts to begin blood drives in Pelham by the Southeastern Community Blood Center in 2000 and received their “Being There Award” for his heroic efforts in promoting blood donation.
In February 1999, he was chosen as a “Build a Better Georgia” winner by then Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine. This program recognized Georgians who make a difference in their communities by volunteering their time and efforts.
He was a former member of the Mitchell County Board of Equalization and formerly served as Supervisor of Elections for the City of Pelham involving both city and county elections. If anyone needed a flag, he was the man that would be called. Through the American Legion, he tried to maintain an inventory of American and Georgia flags for individuals or businesses, selling them at cost.
Pelham schools are the recipients of flags donated by the Legion through his efforts. He also, for years, cleaned out flagpole holes and would put flags out on the Fourth of July when businesses would be closed. He has been instrumental in having numerous flags donated and the flagpole at Pelham Parkway Nursing Home was also donated through his efforts.
He was Pelham’s “Citizen of the Year Award” recipient in 1991 and received the Boys and Girls Club National Service to Youth Award for five years of service in 2004. He also received the Boys and Girls Club Distinguished Service Award for 2005. He served on the Board of the Mitchell County Boys and Girls Club from 2000-2008.
Bernie also had another talent which is not very well known. In 1996, he received First Prize at the Georgia Agrirama’s County Fair for his expertise in Hog Calling.
Bernie and his loving wife, Nancy, received the Heritage Award in 2012 from the Pelham Chamber of Commerce for all of their loving acts of kindness and volunteering hours.
Bernie is survived by his wife, Nancy Hill Pye of Pelham, GA, daughters Kathy Boostrom and husband, Ron, of San Antonio, TX, Elizabeth Dorsey White and husband, Jim, of Roswell, GA, son Sikes Dorsey and wife, Mimi, of Charleston, SC, five grandchildren, three great grandchildren, brother Joseph Pye, Jr. and wife, Sandy, sisters Margaret Woods, Loretta Shurling and husband, Bill, Faye Lee, Myrtle Whittier and husband, Fred, and Josephine Spivey and husband, Roy. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Joan Rackley Pye, son Bernie Pye, Jr., parents Joseph Harry and Bertha Lee Kirby Pye, and brothers Melvin Pye, Lenton Pye, Brooks Pye and Bruce Pye. Visitation will be held on Sunday, October 20,2013 from 5 until 7 p.m. at the funeral home. Funeral services will be conducted Monday, October 21,2013 at 10:00 a.m. at Hand Memorial United Methodist Church with Dr. Hugh Davis officiating. Pallbearers will be Allen Burford, Jimmy Creech, Chester Shelnutt, Ray McKemie, Walter Scaly and Bennett Adams. Interment will be held at Andersonville Cemetery with full military honors. In lieu of flowers please make donations to Hand Memorial United Methodist Church, 242 Hand Avenue, Pelham, GA 31779, Albany Community Hospice, 2332 Lake Park Drive, Albany, GA 31704, or to the Boys and Girls Club, 203 Mathewson Avenue, Pelham, GA 31779.
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Jamerson Braswell Funeral Home