Columbus public servant, businessman dies at 82 - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus public servant, businessman dies at 82

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

A Columbus family is mourning the loss of a public servant, political leader and businessman. 

James Cantrell, owner of Action Buildings and Action Auto Designs in Columbus, passed away Friday morning from a stroke.  

He leaves behind a rich legacy not just in Columbus but throughout the state of Georgia. 

"My father through example always taught me to care for others and to give to others," says Mac Cantrell, James' youngest of four sons.

Mac says his father was a family man, a public servant, and a politician who served in the Army. Cantrell also started family businesses called Action Buildings and Action Auto Designs in Columbus more than 35 years ago. 

Next week would have marked the 65th wedding anniversary of Mac's parents on April 8. 

"Everything that they did was a joint effort between the two of them, if you asked one you got the other it was a package deal. Before the term servant leadership was ever coined they lived out that on a daily basis," says Mac.

Cantrell, a LaGrange native, served as the Third Congressional District Chairman for the Democratic Party of Georgia while Jimmy Carter was President.

His wife, Jean Cantrell, was the first woman to run for Mayor in Columbus. Together they started the first St. Jude Children's Radiothon in town that has run now for more than 25 years, becoming a stellar event and helping to raise millions for children with cancer.

"I think one of his highlights, one of his shining moments is when he spearheaded the efforts to keep Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital open," says Mac.

The hospital was the home for the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Cantrell's achievements didn't stop there.

"During the last two months of his life he received his 50 year Masonic Apron, which is a huge achievement, and also his 50 year Scottish Rite Pin so we were very fortunate to witness that and receive that," Mac said. 

Cantrell, who was 82 years old, had a stroke almost two weeks ago. He was moved to hospice, but Friday around 5 a.m. his family says he passed away due to complications.

Although he was a successful businessman, his family said they will remember him not by his work but by his heart. 

"My father was always a great mentor to the family and always showed how to give to others and showed how to care for and love others, and I know that I have been the beneficiary of that," Mac said.

Cantrell is survived by his wife, four sons, eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

His funeral will be held Monday, April 4 at 2 p.m. at Solid Rock Church in Columbus and the visitation will be held Sunday evening at McMullen Funeral Home.

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