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Bridge dedication celebrates local mans legacy of service
2 Bridge pic
The family of the late Marcus Byrd, with his wife Thelma pulling the cord, unveils signage dedicating the Hwy. 53 bridge over the Etowah River in his honor on Thursday. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

The memory of a local businessman and community leader is now forever enshrined upon a bridge renamed last week in his honor.

"It's just an honor for Daddy to be remembered like that," said Sheila Holbrook, the youngest daughter of Marcus Byrd.

The Marcus Byrd Memorial Bridge crosses the Etowah River on Hwy. 53, east of Dawsonville, in an area that has for years been called Gober Hill, after the local Gober family.

Pat Gober was at the bridge dedication on Thursday to pay tribute to his longtime friend and neighbor.

"This couldn't happen to a better person," he said.

A family man with deep roots in the community, Byrd and his business partner Don Stephens were responsible for much of the early development along the Ga. 400 corridor, according to State Rep. Kevin Tanner, who authored the legislation required to rename the bridge.

"This is a special day for me personally, and I know it is for the family of Marcus Byrd. I think everyone here knew Marcus, either through personal contact or through reputation," Tanner said as the family prepared to unveil the new signs that now mark the bridge.

"I think personally that it's important that we not forget these individuals that have been the forerunners in our community, the contributors in our community."

In addition to bringing Ingles, the first recognized chain grocery store, and McDonalds, first national restaurant, to the area, Byrd will also be remembered for his dedication to the Boy Scouts in Dawson County.

"Oh my, he loved the Boy Scouts," said Thelma Byrd, his wife of more than 40 years. "There were times he'd take the boys out to dinner and not get himself anything. He'd tell me ‘I had to buy their dinner,' and he didn't mind doing it one bit."

It was through the scouts that Tanner learned of Byrd's dedication to his community.

"For over three decades he worked with the Boy Scouts program, starting a local Cub Scout pack and then a Boy Scout troop leader for many, many years, extending a few generations," he said. "He started with his son Mark, who he was a leader for, and to me all the way from Cub Scouts."

Mark Byrd said the bridge named for his father was an emotional and fitting tribute.

"It just brings tears to your eyes. Daddy was such an inspiration to this community," he said.

His brother, Tim Byrd, said the family is honored by the tribute to their father.

"I'm just proud to be his son. This is 20 years after he's been dead and gone, and I still miss him every day," he said.

The family thanks everyone in attendance at the dedication ceremony for keeping their father's memory alive.

"The good part is that Daddy's work is still going on in people like Kevin, who had the idea to honor him with this dedication," said daughter Deborah Pelfrey.