His rocking chair on the front porch of his St. Simon’s vacation home was his happy place. It was there, in the springtime, Robert ‘Bob’ Argo would find peace and relaxation after the end of a long legislative session.
“He really loved that place,” his son-in-law, Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp said.
Robert ‘Bob’ Argo, 92, born November, 18, 1923, died in his home July 7. Hundreds of his friends and relatives remembered and celebrated his life Sunday.
Kemp said the “good ol’ Southern democrat” got many things accomplished in his public service career, and “did it in a way that gained a lot of respect from his friends, his community, and the people he was working with.”
When Kemp decided to run for office, as a Republican, he said Argo had to inform his good friend Tom Murphy, the House speaker at that time. “I’m sure it was a very difficult task for him to do because he was such good friends with Speaker Murphy,” Kemp said. “He also didn’t let that get in the way of supporting his family.”
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Sen. Bill Cowsert, another son-in-law of Argo’s, said Argo put his faith in God first, his family second, and the University of Georgia (and the Bulldogs) third. He added that he never saw him eat a meal that he didn’t say a blessing for first. “He treated me and Brian like his own sons,” he said. “Just a great relationship with him; I thought the world of him.”
Argo was a big supporter of higher education, and Athens. And he really loved the University of Georgia. Cowsert said many people recognized that without Argo’s efforts in the Legislature, the Tate Student Center wouldn’t have happened.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who served with Argo in the Georgia House of Representatives about 10 years, said, “Bob was a great representative of the people. He didn’t have a partisan bone in his body. He was Georgia Bulldog, all the time. He was all Georgian, all the time. He was just a great individual to be around.” Isakson said, adding, “He’ll be missed a lot by the state of Georgia, and by me personally. Bob was a great individual.”
After his time in the Legislature, Argo was appointed to the State Properties Commission by former Gov. Roy Barnes, then reappointed by former Governor Sonny Perdue.
“It shows the kind of respect he had on both sides of the isle,” Kemp said.
Isakson said his fondest memories of Argo were during Georgia-Florida football weekends at St. Simon’s Island. “He would co-host a major pregame party for the Bulldogs, and he would always sit in a porch, in a rocking chair with a bloody Mary in his hand celebrating the Georgia victory-to-come over Florida,” he said. “We would sit on the front porch and talk and share stories. It was something I looked forward to every Florida-Georgia weekend.”
Argo was more than a fan. He served on the UGA Alumni Association as well as the UGA Athletic Association board. He was active in recruiting for UGA football when the NCAA still permitted it. He even help to persuade the famous Herschel Walker to commit to the G.
Baseball was another favorite sport of Argo’s. The Atlanta Braves’ spring training site was right around the corner from his place in St. Simons, and he coached a Little League team in Athens.
“When I was about 12 years old, I was involved in Little League baseball,” John Padgett, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, said. Argo was his coach.
Padgett recalled a night after he had hit the winning home run in a game. “We were back in Elberton, and we were having dinner as a team. Mr. Argo made a point of coming over, pulling me off to the side, and telling how proud he was of me.” Padgett said it struck him as something he didn’t have to do, but Argo still made a point of coming over and bragging on a little boy.
“It was one of the pleasures of my life having had an association with Mr. Bob Argo for all of these years,” he said.
Cowsert said, “I really looked up to him as a role model, and somebody that I would like to emulate in the way I live my life: a true Southern gentleman, true public servant, great family man, and great Christian man who was a pillar of the community.”
Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Jeane; daughters Mimi Laney (Russ) of Snellville, Amy Cowsert (Bill) and Marty Kemp (Brian) of Athens; and eight grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to the Craddock Center, PO Box 69, Cherry Log, GA 30522 or the Campus View Church of Christ, 1360 S. Lumpkin Street, Athens, GA 30605.