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Community leader dies at age 90

COVINGTON - Otis Spillers, a man regarded by his friends, family and colleagues as a pillar of the community, died Tuesday at the age of 90.

Spillers is remembered by those who knew him best as a generous, happy, hardworking person who rarely met a stranger and often performed anonymous acts of kindness.

Spillers accomplished much during his lifetime, in the professional, political and public service realms.

He served on the Covington City Council, the Georgia House of Representatives and was chairman of the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority during its formative years.

Spillers was a devoted member and past president of the Covington Rotary Club for 63 years, where he served on and chaired numerous committees including the Empty Stocking Fund.

"Otis was a very, very quiet leader in that club. There's not a member of that club that didn't respect him. When he spoke, everyone answered," said Mike Lassiter, past president of the club and current assistant governor of Rotary District 6910.

Spillers was also a former member and chairman of the Covington Planning Commission; past president of the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce; commander of the local American Legion; Exalted Ruler of Covington Elks Lodge No. 1806; and a member of the Board of Counselors for Oxford College.

He started Spillers Lumber Company in 1947, and his other endeavors included real estate, construction, home building supplies, insurance, marine supplies, mini and industrial storage and rental property.

He was honored in 1960 as a Georgia Industrial Ambassador for his work on industrial development in Newton County.

Spillers was known for his jovial and friendly disposition.

"He was a very happy person, always joking. He never met a stranger," said Marlene Blackwell, Spillers' secretary of more than 50 years.

Spillers was also an avid golfer whose competitive streak was evident on the course.

"He was a true Southern gentleman. He was very competitive. Just about anything he ever attempted to do, he would go at it very voraciously," said Delano Harper, Spillers' golfing buddy of 25 years.

"He loved to beat everyone playing golf. If he could win a quarter off of you, he would walk around with a grin for a month," Harper added.

Spillers was also known for making anonymous donations to individuals and organizations.

"There's an old saying that, 'There's no limit to what a man can accomplish if he doesn't mind who gets the credit.' Otis was that way," Lassiter said.

"He has an excellent reputation throughout the county. He was one of a kind ... He lived a good, quality-full life," Harper added.

Spillers was born in Roberta on Feb. 12, 1919. He lived and worked on a farm until he graduated high school in 1935, then moved to Covington to work for Pratt Lumber Company.

Spillers joined the U.S. Navy in 1939 and served in World War II.

After his discharge, he returned to Covington and married the late Mary Delbridge Spillers and had two children, Amelia and A.J.

Spillers died at Piedmont Hospital on Tuesday following a massive heart attack Friday night.

He is survived by his children and their spouses along with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, two sisters and two brothers.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Caldwell and Cowan Funeral Home, located at 1215 Access Road.

The funeral service will take place at 11 a.m. Friday at Covington First Baptist Church, with Rev. J. J. Wilson and Rev. Len Strozier officiating. Interment will follow at Covington City Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the First Baptist Church Building Fund, 1139 Usher St., Covington, GA 30014.

Online condolences may be made at www.caldwellandcowan.com.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.