His nocturnal escapades to Atlanta nightclubs made news. So did his claims for travel expenses between Atlanta and Jesup several times a day.
But Dean is probably most legendary for what turned into a personal tragedy for himself and his family: A federal court jury convicted him in 1980 of conspiring to import marijuana. The charge evolved from a scheme in which Dean allegedly promised men who he thought were drug smugglers that he would help them import “happy cigars” in return for financing for his gubernatorial campaign.
As it turned out, those supposed drug smugglers were actually undercover agents for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The subsequent legal battle bankrupted Dean’s parents, who faithfully sunk the bulk of their half-million-dollar estate into his defense.
“Our son is a political prisoner, not a law breaker,” Lilly Dean, his mother, told the AJC in 1983. Her son served two-thirds of a 5-year sentence, and was released in September 1986.
Dean, whose 1990 political comeback failed when he lost a bid to reclaim his former Senate seat, seemed to settle quietly back into hometown. The former senator, once known for his personal touch sending birthday and anniversary cards to constituents, opened what he dubbed a public relations and investment firm in a red-brick building his family owned in downtown Jesup.
Preceded in death by his parents, Roscoe and Lilly Dean, Sr., Dean also outlived his sister, Joy, and brother, Wayne. According to Rinehart & Sons Funeral Home, no memorial is planned. There will be a graveyard service at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Jesup City Cemetery, where the rest of Dean’s family is interred.
No cause of death was given.