• 81°

Haigler loses battle with cancer

The local business community has lost one of its most &uot;intelligent and innovative&uot; leaders, Charles B. Haigler Jr., owner of Greenville Motor Company.

Following a yearlong battle with cancer, Haigler, 69, passed away at his Fort Deposit home Saturday.

Described as an avid reader, music lover and a great student of history, particularly French history, this jovial man of many interests was actively involved in many facets of the community in both Lowndes and Butler counties.

Known as &uot;Mister Charlie&uot; to his many friends, business associates and customers, the automobile dealer continued the &uot;tradition of excellence&uot; in sales and service begun by his father, Charles Sr., in Fort Deposit in 1927.

&uot;Charlie and his family had such a long history with this town. I was fortunate enough to serve with him on several boards. He was a really solid citizen who will be missed greatly,&uot; banker and longtime friend, Fort Deposit resident Ned Ellis, said Monday.

A close friend to Haigler for more than 35 years, Dr. Everett Snow, of Greenville, describes the businessman as someone &uot;who never had an unkind word to say about anyone else.&uot;

&uot;Charlie was always able to see the good in any person. Even though he was a small-town car dealer, Charlie was a very cosmopolitan man, the kind who could mix and mingle with anyone, from those in the highest echelons of society to the most ordinary folk," Snow said.

&uot;People just liked being around him. He had so many, many friends. I have never known anyone else who had as many close friends as Charlie did."

Haigler, a graduate of Lowndes County High, went on to graduate from the School of Commerce at the University of Alabama, where he was a proud member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity. An Army veteran, he

also worked for U.S. Steel at one time.

Haigler joined the family business, Fort Deposit Motor Company, in 1961. In 2000, he moved his dealership, renamed Greenville Motor Company, to the city of Greenville, where it has continued to flourish as a Chevrolet-Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealership.

The businessman served on a number of automotive-related boards for the Automotive Dealers Association and for General Motors and Chevrolet.

Always active in the community, Haigler also served on the boards of the Fort Deposit Bank and First Community Bank for more than 30 years.

Haigler always had an interest in politics. He was a city council member in Fort Deposit for more than 20 years and served on several planning and industrial boards in Lowndes County and Fort Deposit. He was also a member of the Greenville Rotary Club.

Haigler was a member of the Montgomery &uot;Committee of 100,&uot; an organization made up of some of the top area business leaders. A staunch Chamber of Commerce supporter, he was also actively involved in the Republican Party on both a state and national level.

In addition to his considerable business prowess and community involvement, Haigler was known for his warmth, humor and kindness. Friends say he loved visiting his beach house and spending time on his boat, aptly named &uot;The Good Times.&uot;

&uot;Charlie and I used to spend time down there philosophizing together on all the world's problems. It was always ‘good times’ with Charlie and (his wife) Susan on those trips. He had a terrific sense of humor and he loved reminiscing about old times,&uot; Snow recalled with a smile.

&uot;Charlie was a true class act. He and Susan were always great friends and wonderful people to be around. It’s a great loss to this area,&uot; long time acquaintance, Melvyn Stone of Butler County Bank, said this week.

&uot;People really liked Mr. Charlie. He enjoyed having a good time. He was a pleasure to be with and work for. He left a great mark on the business community, and the community as a whole. He will truly be missed by many,&uot; Ken Gibson, general manager of Greenville Motor Co., said.