Lane Dies: 'We've Lost a True Champion'
Pinehurst Mayor George P. Lane, described as a visionary and one who loved interacting with people, died Tuesday morning at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. He was 81.
Lane had fallen at his home on the evening of Feb. 15. He underwent emergency surgery and had been sedated since.
Village Manager Andy Wilkison said Lane’s death is a great loss not only to the Pinehurst community, but also to the county as a whole.
“We’ve lost a true champion for Pinehurst and Moore County,” he said. “He loved everything about the village and everything about Moore County. His interests were wide-ranging, not just local government. He was interested in the overall betterment of our whole community — not just Pinehurst, but the whole area.”
Wilkison said Lane was a real “citizen’s mayor,” one who loved to get out and interact with the residents. He enjoyed residents coming up to him at restaurants, sharing their thoughts or concerns. He said the residents always seemed to respond well to that.
“That was admirable and made him stand out,” he said.
Lane had served as mayor since 2007, when he won a substantial victory over John Marcum, who headed the “Preserve and Protect Pinehurst” ticket. PPP candidates opposed many actions by the council at that time.
Before and after the election, Lane expressed a desire to bring the village together.
While serving as mayor, Lane oversaw several major issues affecting the village. Among them were the completion of the controversial Carolina Vista roundabout, the effort to annex Pinewild Country Club, an update of the village’s 2003 Comprehensive Long-Range Plan and the village’s proposal to buy water and wastewater treatment plants near Wagram in Scotland County.
Council meetings were often marked by Lane’s humor and quick wit. He kept the mood light at meetings, frequently joking with the other council members, village staff and those in the audience.
But he also had strong opinions. He was serious about his ideas and worked diligently to see them through, according to those who have served with him.
“I don’t think there was anyone in this community who loved Pinehurst as much as George Lane did,” said Lorraine Tweed, who served as mayor pro tem for most of Lane’s tenure. “He truly loved this town. He had some very unique, sometimes wild ideas, but he managed to bring them to fruition.”
One of the few ideas that he didn’t get to see to fruition was the Wagram water proposal. Lane fought hard for the proposed $5.5 million aquisition of water and wastewater treatment plants and bring water to Moore County.
But negotiations have stalled, and it is still unknown if the Scotland County Board of Commissioners will ever vote on the deal. State law gives the board the right to approve or deny it.
“I hope someday as [Lane] is looking down from heaven, that will come to being,” Tweed said. “He was a very special person and I loved him. I truly did.”
Lane was a visible presence outside the village as well. He was a strong advocate of cooperation with other municipalities and was a founder of the Moore County Summit.
Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, who worked closely with Lane through the Summit and other Chamber business, said Lane always had the best interest of the community at heart. He said Moore County has lost a “great leader” and a “great visionary.”
“I can’t tell you how devastating it is to me personally because I’ve lost a friend, but this is very sad for the community,” he said. “George had a way of seeing what was possible and what could happen. He didn’t always get bogged down in what the obstacles were. He just saw the possibilities.
“He was just a great man and a great leader and a mentor to me and a true friend. I just can’t express how sad I am right now to hear that he’s gone.”
David Woronoff, publisher of The Pilot, who co-founded the Summit with Lane, said he will be sorely missed.
“Dr. Lane was a good mayor, a great friend and an even better person,” Woronoff said. “Pine-hurst and Moore County are better for having known him and for being led by him. We will miss him dearly.”
Southern Pines Mayor Mike Haney called Lane a friend and an advocate for Pinehurst and Moore County.
“This is a sad day for Pinehurst, Moore County and all those who knew George Lane,” Haney said. “Pinehurst has lost a passionate advocate, and I have lost a friend.”
Haney remembered Lane as a man who had the best interest of all of Moore County at heart and who worked tirelessly to make all the communities better.
“He always tried to open the lines of communications, to share thoughts and ideas — whatever he could do to help make all our communities better,” Haney said.
Haney said he will miss Lane’s wit, and his ability to connect with people.
“He always kept you on your toes (mentally), but at the same time, you were always comfortable in his presence,” Haney said. “He always made you feel like you were a friend.”
Mayor Pro Tem Virginia “Ginsey” Fallon assumed Lane’s responsibilities as mayor upon his incapacitation. She will continue to serve in that role until the council selects a replacement, and Wilkison said there is no set timetable to make that selection.
The village charter follows state statute, and has no other provisions on top of it. Because Lane’s term expires in 2011, the appointed replacement would serve until the next regular election is held that November.
If Lane’s replacement is appointed from the current council, two different scenarios could play out.
If either Fallon or Councilwoman Joan Thurman is selected, the council would appoint someone to fill out the remainder of their term. Like Lane’s, their terms end in 2011.
If either Councilman Doug Lapins or Councilwoman Nancy Roy Fiorillo is selected, because they are in the first year of a four-year term, a special election would be held in 2011 to fill the remaining two years of that term.
The council could also appoint someone other than a current member.
A native of Long Island, New York, Lane was a U.S. Army veteran. He spent his professional life in education, working as a teacher, coach and athletic director.
He later moved to Massach-usetts, where he earned his doctorate at the University of Massachusetts. He served as a school superintendent for 28 years.
He moved to Pinehurst in 1990 with his wife, Barbara. She died in 2005. Since then, Lane had been heavily involved in civic affairs in the village. He served on the Pinehurst No. 7 advisory council and the board of the Pinehurst Civic Group, including two years as its president.
He was president of the English-Speaking Union and a member of the Moore County Symphony board.
He is survived by three children and one grandson.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Pinehurst Village Chapel.
“He was a great friend and a great leader for our town,” Wilkison said. “He was kind, gentle. He took time with people. He was patient. He had great self-control.
“He was just a real friend and mentor.”
Contact John Krahnert III at (910) 693- 2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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