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Jack Elkins' family, friends remember 'dedicated' man

Family members and colleagues are remembering Jack Elkins after his sudden death. Elkins, a Locust Grove native, died unexpectedly on Feb. 1, at age 75. He had been the president of the Henry County Farm Bureau since 1998.

Elkins died when an aneurysm burst on the back of his heart, according to his wife, Dianne Mitchell Elkins. "He was here with me, watching ‘Jeopardy' one minute, and gone the next," she said. "At least, we were together."

Dianne Elkins said she and her late husband regularly watched the television game shows, "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune," together. His death occurred after the conclusion of one of the shows, she continued.

"He just threw his hands up in the air, and he was gone," she said. She immediately called 911, she said, and paramedics responded quickly, but could not revive him.

His funeral was Thursday at Haisten Funerals and Cremations in McDonough, followed by burial at Locust Grove Cemetery.

The Elkins would have celebrated their 25th anniversary on May 1, and Dianne Elkins said they were planning a trip to Biloxi, Miss.

She recalled some of the best memories she had of her late husband. The couple bought their Hampton farm in 1987. Dianne Elkins said they became involved with the Henry County Farm Bureau in 1996, after receiving a tax bill.

"We got a property tax bill, and it was big," she continued. "We both knew we needed to do something to make the farm pay for itself."

The coupled planted approximately 20 acres of hay on the property, which became a source of income for them, she said. One of Elkins' strongest assets was his personality, said his wife. "He never met a stranger. That made him a good Farm Bureau president. He was outgoing and personable."

She said her late husband had an ongoing thirst for knowledge. On Jan. 30, she said, he attended a wood-working show in north Atlanta. He was also in the process of learning the computer programs Outlook and Access.

"He got one of the first computers that came out," his wife added.

Jack Elkins retired in 1990 from the Department of the Army as a civilian employee, and was appointed this year to serve on the Metropolitan North Georgia Water District Governing Board. He was a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason, and a member of Forest Park Lodge #399 F. & A.M.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a brother, John Robert (Dee) Elkins; daughters, Lea (Jeremiah) Turner, Lynn Pittard, and Shannon (John) Mallard; sons, Michael (Nancy) Yates, and James W. Vickery; 10 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.

Henry County Farm Bureau Vice President Ross McQueen took over Elkins' duties following his death. Elkins cared deeply about representing the interest of Georgia farmers, said McQueen.

"[Elkins'] favorite saying was ‘South Georgia farms beans and cotton, but we in Henry County farm the General Assembly in Atlanta. If we do a good job on our crop, South Georgia can do a better job on theirs,'" McQueen said.

"His [Elkins'] ace in the hole was legislative," he said. "Jack always wanted to be the voice of farming for Henry County."

McQueen said Elkins was knowledgeable on farming issues, and representatives in the Legislative Department for the Georgia Farm Bureau often sought him out for advice. "Jack was a go-to guy," he added. "If they had trouble, they would turn to Jack. He will surely be missed in that department."

Josh White, executive vice president of the Georgia Cattlemen's Association, said he knew Elkins for at least a decade. "He served as a mentor, and a great person who encouraged me to work in agriculture," said White.

During their relationship, White said Elkins urged him to be more vocal about agricultural issues affecting Georgia farmers. Elkins was passionate about those issues, he said. "He wanted to carry the torch to represent all of Georgia's farmers. When addressing the issues, he wanted all the facts," White said. "He was an independent thinker, and wanted to make up his own mind."