Jackson, Honigberg and other friends and colleagues remember Larry Hepburn as a non-judgmental and generous person who came “to love all things Georgia,” said his daughter. He loved classical music and he liked to cook, two passions he found as a teenager in St. Petersburg. Larry Hepburn like to gather stories about Marvin Griffin. Jimmy Carter and other South Georgia officials, and he admired Democrat Ellis Arnall, whom he considered Georgia’s most effective and progressive governor. When Zell Miller ran for lieutenant governor, both Larry and Mary Hepburn felt they had to campaign for him, someone who, like them, had taught history and political science to college students.
“Larry loved to drive the Georgia backroads and see what made every community unique,” said Valerie Hepburn. A trip to Florida to visit Mary’s mother could take days as the family meandered around the state, stopping, say, in Muesella to eat peach ice cream and buy peaches at the well-known Dickey Farms or in Pelham to see the massive Hand Trading Company building — the largest department store in Georgia when built in 1914. “He always knew where you could find the best barbecue. And we went to every state park in Georgia.”
Armed with Ph.D.’s in social science education from Florida State University, the Hepburn family moved to Athens in 1969. Larry joined the education faculty at Agnes Scott College, in Atlanta and Mary worked in the UGA College of Education before heading the division of civic education at the Institute of Government.
In 1978, Larry moved to the institute, where his deep knowledge of and love for Georgia informed the many books he wrote and edited. In addition to textbooks, he also did research and authored reports and monographs on Georgia history, culture and politics for county and state officials. Issues he focused on ranged from county consolidation to the question of “how many state employees is too many?”
For years, he directed the Biennial Institute, which helps orient newly elected members of the General Assembly to the legislative process and long-time members to emerging state challenges. He retired in 2000.
On the family’s property in Bogart, Larry established a grape arbor in the front yard and made wine he named “Oconee Red.” Every Halloween, the Hepburns would host a big costume party, inviting friends and colleagues. Friends remembered that Larry, always celebrated Beethoven’s birthday.
“Larry was curious about everything,” said Edwin Jackson. “He loved Georgia and worked to make it better.”