Former councilmember described as “visionary”

Published 7:19 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Former Greenville City Councilmember Debra Hood, 57, died Sunday, February 15, 2009 following a long battle with cancer. Hood served District 1 on the city council from 1988 -2000.

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon, who served on the council with Hood, recalls a woman who loved Greenville and had a true passion for education, the arts and the community.

“Debra was very instrumental in obtaining the funding for the Greenville-Butler County Public Library,” McLendon said.

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“She really believed in the importance of reading and education opportunities for our young people. She was also very much involved in the construction of the new Greenville High School.”

GBCPL head Burke McFerrin agrees with McLendon’s comments.

“Debra put her time, effort and financial support into making this library a reality for this community. She staunchly believed in the importance of books, of learning, to our city and county,” McFerrin said.

“On every level, both personal and professional, Debra was a delight to know.”

The former city councilmember was also instrumental in establishing the Main Street Program in Greenville, said Main Street executive director Nancy Idland.

“Debra truly saw the importance of downtown Greenville and doing something to renovate and revitalize it,” said Idland.

“She had great ideas and was really something of a visionary for our town’s future.”

Hood was also instrumental in beautification projects such as Clean City/Adopt-A-Mile Program and the Greenville Tree Commission Program and played an important role in getting a “No Smoking in Municipal Buildings” Policy adopted.

Mary Ann Hamilton of the Greenville Area Arts Council recalls a dear friend who was a staunch community volunteer and fervent supporter of the arts.

“Debra had such a strong desire to see Greenville rise above the average for a small town,” Hamilton said.

“She loved the arts and was involved with the arts council from the get-go. She worked to see the Ritz restored to its former beauty and to see the arts flourish in our city.”

Hood was also active with the Alabama League of Municipalities and served on their Commission on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, where she served as chairman of the committee in 1992.

She became an Advanced Certified Municipal Official in 2000.

“Debra was on the bandwagon for recycling and energy conservation long before it was the popular thing to do,” Hamilton said.

“She really cared about making Alabama and Greenville a better place for everyone. She will be sorely missed.”

Other causes championed by Hood included “At Risk” youth programs, the Butler County Historical Society, Landmarks Foundation and the founding of a museum in Greenville to preserve the history of the community.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. Danny Hood, and mother, Geraldine Kelley, both of Greenville; and two children, Kelley Hood of Tuscaloosa, and Amy Wingard of Atlanta, Ga.

A memorial service will be held for Hood at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, February 21, 2009 at Saint Thomas Episcopal Church. Flowers will be accepted or donations may be made to the Greenville-Butler County Public Library.