Longtime Bibb County official Tommy Olmstead died today at the Coliseum Medical Center. He was 83.
County coroner Leon Jones said Olmstead died at 12:40 p.m. of an undisclosed illness.
Olmstead was a former Macon mayor, a Bibb County commission chairman, a state senator and a Georgia commissioner of human resources.
He left his last elected position as Bibb County chairman in 2004.
His son, Cliff Olmstead, told 13WMAZ that he had an emergency appendectomy "that went wrong" and he was put on life support June 7.
He said his father had a love for the city and county and a commitment to serve: "Anybody in public office has a load on their shoulders. He handled it because of the integrity he had. He understood that when you took that oath (of office) it was to be a public servant of the people.
"It was the desire to help the community and the people of this community that drove him. It was never anything else, never financial gain."
Olmstead was born in Macon and educated at Mercer University.
He ran American Office Equipment Company for 40 years.
Olmstead was elected to the county commission in 1977 and served as chairman of the finance committee.
Then in 1986, he was elected to the state Senate, serving three terms.
U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss issued a statement Thursday on Olmstead's passing.
"Tommy Olmstead was a good friend and a skillful steward of Macon and Bibb County," Chambliss said. "I had the good fortune of working closely with him during my time representing the 8th District, and had great respect and admiration for Tommy's ability to get things done, whether in the face of a tropical storm or a difficult city council."
He left the Senate in 1991 to run for mayor of Macon.
He beat incumbent mayor Lee Robinson in a bitter race.
Robinson was seeking a second term as Macon's mayor. Olmstead was swept into office by promising the voters that his first act in office would be to fire the controversial police chief, Jim Brooks.
Responding to the news of Olmstead's death, Robinson said, "In times like these we grieve for the family and celebrate the years of Tommy's public service."
He added, "I know he is in a better place."
Three years later, the Great Flood of 1994 struck the city and knocked out Macon's water supply for three weeks.
In 1995, he became commissioner of the state's largest agency, the Department of Human Resources and stayed in the job until 1999.
While in that job, his name became attached to a court case that led to a major U.S. Supreme Court decision.
The suit was filed on behalf of two mentally ill women who argued they should not be held in state institutions.
The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled that mental illness is a disability covered by the disabilities act and that the two women should be transferred to community-based treatment center.
The "Olmstead Decision" came in 1999.
He returned to Bibb County in 2000 to run for Bibb County chairman and he served one term in the job.
C. Jack Ellis served as Macon's mayor while Olmstead was county chairman.
He said Olmstead earned his respect.
"I remember how hard he worked to ensure that those that did not have a voice that he was their voice, and I always admired that about him," he said.
He said Olmstead "beat" him at negotiations over SPLOST money.
"But you let that stuff go after a while," he said.
The funeral for former Macon Mayor and Bibb County commission chairman Tommy Olmstead will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Vineville United Methodist Church in Macon.
Visitation will be held Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hart's at the Cupola, 6324 Peake Road.
The family is asking for donations to the Methodist Children's Home and Martha Bowman United Methodist Church.