Deane Bonner and her husband heard one man’s name repeatedly when they moved to Marietta in the early 1970s.
“We had trouble finding housing and everybody said, ‘talk to Hugh,’ ” said Mrs. Bonner, president of the Cobb County NAACP. “He helped facilitate that issue with us. Everybody knew Hugh.”
Mr. Grogan grew up in public housing in Marietta and attended all-black Lemon Street School. He studied at Morehouse College and St. John’s University in New York. He worked in the kidney dialysis unit at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, but in 1972 came home.
“He always felt a little homesick, and had always wanted to do something in the [Marietta] community,” said his son, Reece Grogan of Atlanta. “He went to high school here, and he wanted to elevate the life of black Americans.”
Politics was one avenue.
In the 1970s, he was part of a successful redistricting lawsuit civil rights activists filed against Marietta. The suit challenged the city’s ward map, saying it diluted black voting strength. It led to Grogan’s election as the first black councilman in Marietta. He served Ward 5 from 1978 to 1982.
But Mr. Grogan had been a public servant long before becoming an elected one. Among other things, he helped integrate city boards and committees, said James Gober of Marietta.
“He was very successful because he made it easy in the way he communicated with the city council and public,” Mr. Gober said. “He was there as a helper, not a leader of the people, and he took that same mindset to the council.”
Hugh Grogan, 72, of Marietta died July 28 of pneumonia at WellStar Kennestone in Marietta. The funeral will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Cole Street Baptist Church in Marietta. Hanley Shelton Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
In 1985, Mr. Grogan tried to regain the Ward 5 post he had lost to John Hammond. He Grogan challenged the merits of the 1985 race, saying that a number of Ward 5 residents weren’t allowed to vote because they were registered in the wrong wards. The Marietta City Council rejected his challenge, however, and the election results stood.
Though he served one, four-year term, Mrs. Bonner said his civic commitment reached beyond his council tenure.
“He is the reason we have Ward 5,” she said. “Even though he had only one vote on the council, he kept the community aware of everything going on, and certainly about anything that would affect us.”
In 1976 and 1978, Mr. Grogan served as president of the Marietta chapter of the NAACP. It became the Cobb branch in the 1980s. Bonner, the current president, said Mr. Grogan gave the organization a “silent” strength.
“He was always dignified,” she said, “and he came from the old-school where manners matter. We will definitely pay homage to this brilliant mind.”
Mr. Grogan ran a consulting firm that specialized in community and economic development. He was a member of the Cobb County Training Employment and Training Council.
Additional survivors include another son, Hugh Grogan III of Memphis; a daughter, Lorianne Smith-Robinson of Lawrenceville; and four grandchildren.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.