The transition that Callaway began with his gubernatorial bid continued under Sonny Perdue, who in 2002 became the first Republican governor of Georgia since 1872. Perdue, originally a Democrat, had switched to the Republican Party in 1998.
Callaway's legacy extends beyond Georgian politics and into its soil. He oversaw the care and feeding of Callaway Gardens, a 6,500-acre resort complex located nearly two hours south of Atlanta and founded by his parents.
For the last several years, my family has traveled to the gardens on Mothers' Day weekend with my mother for picnicking and play.
Callaway Gardens holds a special place in my own family's history, too. When she was in high school, my mother would drive her siblings there during the summers. When I was growing up, our family would often travel to the gardens to meet my cousins from Columbus. The summer before my senior year in high school, I lived in Pine Mountain, the neighboring town and worked at the gardens' ice cream shop.
With its beach, golf course, vegetable garden, trails and butterfly house, Callaway Gardens provides city dwellers with a respite from the frantic pace of life.
I recall running into Callaway numerous times during the decades I have attended Republican Party functions. As a girl surrounded by adults, I had no trouble picking him out of the crowd: his tall, military bearing, serious expression and bushy eyebrows set him apart.
Bo Callaway was a treasure to his family, his state and his country. He served his country well, and his legacy, both in politics and in helping transform the red clay of South Georgia's Callaway Gardens into rich, black earth, will live for generations.
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