Claude Henry Booker Jr. passed away on Dec. 25, 2019.
He was born on May 20, 1932, to Claude Henry and Jessie Mae (Moak) Booker in Rome, Ga. As a child growing up during the Great Depression and World War II, he was “Tobby” to his friends.
He graduated from the Darlington School in 1950, where was a member of the Glee Club, the Jabberwokk yearbook staff, the “D” Club, and most importantly pitched on the baseball team, often against much older men who had returned from the war to spend a college prep year at Darlington. Claude supported Darlington for his entire life, serving on its Board of Trustees, as class agent, and as a member of the J. Daniel Hanks Sr. Heritage Society.
He was named a Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient in 2010 and gave a memorable address to the students, painting a picture of a different time in post-war Rome, Ga. when students rose when teachers entered the classroom and students would share football cleats because they could not all afford them.
After Darlington, Claude attended Davidson College and graduated with a BSIM from Georgia Tech (1954) and from Emory’s first MBA class (1955). He spent two years of active service in the U.S. Air Force, attaining reserve commission of Captain. He completed additional studies at the LSU School of Banking of the South, where in later years he would frequently lecture. He then embarked on a successful banking career, with executive positions in several banks across Georgia, eventually as President of the First National Bank and Trust of Augusta (now SunTrust) and Executive Vice President of the Trust Co. of Georgia (now SunTrust). In Augusta, he was a member of Richmond Associates, an investment club with (mostly) reputable members.
During his career, he served in leadership positions in many civic organizations, including the Georgia Council on Economic Education, President of the Greater Augusta Chamber of Commerce (1977), Chairman of the United Way of Richmond and Columbia Counties and North Augusta (1975), President of the Georgia-Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Member of the President’s Advisory Council of the Medical College of Georgia, Director of the Richmond County Unit of the American Cancer Society, President of the Greater Augusta/Fort Gordon Chapter Association of the United States Army, Director of the Georgia Heart Association of Richmond County, State Chairman of the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition Program of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Member of the Board of Visitors of Emory University, Chairman of the Parents’ Committee at Georgia Tech, Kiwanis Club of Augusta, and President of the Savannah Chamber of Commerce (1971).
He was an Elder of the Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church of Augusta, Ga., and St. Simons Presbyterian Church of St. Simons Island, Ga. He continued to lead after retiring from the bank, recently serving as Director of the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation and as Director of the Sea Island Property Owners Association.
Claude was an avid golfer, and he and his wife Judy were very active in the Southern Seniors and the United States Seniors Golf Associations; Claude organized tournaments on St. Simons and Sea Island after moving there in 1990. Together they traveled the world on golf outings, including a wonderful tour of England, Scotland, and (particularly special to Claude) Ireland.
He thoroughly enjoyed his opportunities to play at the Augusta National Golf Club when living in Augusta, and for many years he generously donated tickets to the Masters Tournament to the Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Capital City Club (Atlanta), the Augusta Country Club, the Ocean Forest Club (Sea Island), the Sea Island Club and the Frederica Golf Club (St. Simons).
Claude inherited a wonderful sense of humor from his father. He was a great storyteller and could recite jokes, poems and limericks, and he was always able to see the humor in every situation. His parents were gifted musicians, and Claude used to say that he could only play the C-scale and the radio, probably because he really would rather be playing baseball. Later in life he would tell us that his golf group had relaxed the rules a bit, such as conceding a putt “if you believed you could make it.” Somewhere along the line his nickname transformed from “Tobby” to “Boogie,” and only his golf buddies know why.
Most importantly, Claude was a great friend. He was humble, kind, and gracious to everyone he met, regardless of life station. He remembered everyone, and everyone loved him. He was a true Southern Gentleman.
Claude will be greatly missed, but we are sure would encourage us to do two things going forward. First, to do the best we can, because, as a great mentor of his used to say, “That’s all a mule can do.” More importantly he would advise, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t enjoy!”
He is survived by Judy (Perry), his wife, love and companion of 39 years; sons, Stephen Timothy Booker (Suzan) of Atlanta and Dr. David Lee Booker of Augusta; daughter, Sydney Catherine Booker of Atlanta; granddaughters, Lee Catherine Booker and Sarah Elizabeth Booker Hugar (Lee) of Pittsburgh; and great-granddaughter Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lee Hugar.
A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, at Ocean Forest Golf Club, on Sea Island, with the Rev. Alan Dyer presiding. A private graveside service will take place at Westover Memorial Cemetery, in Augusta.
The family would like to express heartfelt thanks for memorial contributions made in Claude’s memory to St. Simons Presbyterian Church, 205 Kings Way, St. Simons Island, GA 31522; Darlington School, 1014 Cave Spring Road, Rome, GA 30161; and Hospice of the Golden Isles, 1692 Glynco Parkway, Brunswick, GA 31525.
Edo Miller and Sons Funeral Home, www.edomillerandsons.com, is in charge of the arrangements.
The Brunswick News, December 28, 2019