Senoia's former administrator diesBy SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Former Senoia City Administrator Murray McAfee died Sunday of cancer believed to have been caused by his exposure to Agent Orange during his service in the Vietnam War.
McAfee came to Senoia in 2002, and was integral in helping get work on the city’s long-awaited sewer system under way.
“He was just very knowledgeable about the whole sewer situation and what was involved. To me, that was a real benefit in hiring him as city manager,” said Cleveland, who remained friends with McAfee.
Cleveland said that McAfee and the late Bobby Hogan, who was the city’s public works director, “spent all of that summer” working on the sewer project. “Murray wrote up proposals and presented themâ ¦ he was very instrumental in getting us different grants to pay for the sewer,” she said. “Then he and Bobby went all over town getting all the easements that were needed.”
McAfee also wrote the city’s tree ordinance, and was instrumental in putting together the city’s impact fees, Cleveland said.
“He was definitely hands on,” Cleveland said. “With broken pipes, sewer or anything else, he was out in the field for sure,” Cleveland said.
“Since he was in college, he had worked with builders and developers, and so Senoia was kind of a culmination of all his education and his experience,” she said. “He was able to come and be the city manager and combine all his experience from other places and his knowledge.
“And he came to us just at the time that we were starting to really grow,” she added.
McAfee helped “lay the groundwork for what has developed,” Cleveland said.
After leaving the city administrator post in 2004, McAfee stayed in Senoia and remained active. He served as president of the Senoia Area Historical Society and ran for office twice, once for a seat on the city council and once for the mayor’s post.
City Councilman Larry Owens worked with McAfee when he was city administrator, but got a chance to become friends with him last fall through his work with Meals on Wheels. When McAfee was city administrator, “I enjoyed working with him and I learned a lot from him,” Owens said.
Owens delivered meals once a week, and made sure to stop at McAfee’s home last so they would have plenty of time to talk.
“I’m glad that I got a chance to spend some time with Murray, being involved with Meals on Wheels,” Owens said. “We were able to sit and chat quite a bit,” said Owens, who will serve as a pallbearer at McAfee’s funeral. “He was always sharing his thoughts on city government.”
McAfee “had a real passion for life,” Owens said. “He knew he was dying. He was going to make the best of it,” he said. “He didn’t want any special attention or anything, he just wanted to be in his little space at home.”
When his cancer got really bad, “he did show a side that most people never got to see,” Owens said. “He was a very kind-hearted individual and he loved his pets. He loved his family and he had made several really good friends in Senoia.”
“He was just a kind, friendly, talking soul,” said Owens.
Cleveland said that McAfee always called Senoia “the city of second chances.”
“I think he always felt like Senoia was very accepting,” she said.
“Murray always had the city’s best interests at heart,” Cleveland said. “He really, really, really loved Senoia,” she said. “He really felt like he had found a home.”
McAfee had a wide range of hobbies, from building Porsche racing engines to a model train village that he began building when he was 15. “He made all the scenery and towns. He made it all,” Cleveland said. “It was just fascinating.”
McAfee was known for his love of animals, especially his cats.
About a month ago, Cleveland said, McAfee’s hospice nurse agreed to take his last two cats home to live with her. That was a great relief to him, Cleveland said, knowing that they would be cared for. In his last few weeks, according to Cleveland, many of McAfee’s friends would bring their dogs to visit.
Just a few days before he died, McAfee told Cleveland “he’d had a conversation with God about what his job was going to be in heaven.”
“I said, ‘I didn’t know we had to work in heaven,’” Cleveland said.
“He said, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve already talk to God and he agrees with my planâ ¦ I’m going to take care of all God’s animals.’”
One thing that people might not know about McAfee was “he loved for everybody to leave in a win/win situation. He always wanted everybody to feel like they won,” Cleveland said. “He just always had that sense of fairness.”
McAfee’s family will receive friends today from 5-7 p.m. at McKoon Funeral Home in downtown Newnan, and Friday from 11 a.m. until the service time at noon at East Armuchee Baptist Church, LaFayette, GA.