Tim Lee, 62, executive director of Habersham Partnership for Growth, died Sunday at Northeast Georgia Medical Center after his cancer returned over the summer.
“Tim Lee was a great man!” said Brian Horton, chairman of Habersham Partnership for Growth in a statement. “He was a loving husband, father, uncle and colleague. He was a visionary whose work and achievements will impact the communities he served for generations to come.”
The Habersham County Commission issued a statement Monday about Lee's death.
"With heartfelt sadness we have learned of the passing of Tim Lee on Sunday, Sept. 29," that statement reads. "The Habersham County Commission has worked closely with Mr. Lee over the last several years. He made a significant impact on our county through personal and professional relationships. Tim Lee Quickly became an important part of our community and helped establish a new foundation for economic development in Habersham County."
Prior to joining Habersham County, Lee served as chairman of Cobb County from 2010 to 2016 and was the lead negotiator in the public-financing deal for SunTrust Park, a deal that brought the Atlanta Braves to the Cumberland Mall area.
"The Braves organization is deeply saddened to hear of Tim Lee's passing," the Braves tweeted Sunday. "We are incredibly appreciative for the vision and leadership Tim showed throughout his tenure as chairman of the Cobb County Commission, specifically the bold move of helping bring the Braves to Cobb County. The difficult decisions he made have paid off with the resurgence of growth throughout the county, which have greatly benefitted its residents and schools."
While controversial to some, that project to date has led to nearly $1 billion in private investment.
"We are thankful to have known Tim and consider him to be a true gentleman, a thoughtful and tireless public servant, a visionary, but most of all a great husband and father," the Braves' statement reads. "His legacy will live on and his true impact on this region will only grow over time. We are forever grateful to have been a small part of his impactful life and share our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers with his children, grandchildren and his wife Annette."
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said Lee’s determination for SunTrust helped rejuvenate Cumberland.
“In his three years with the Habersham Partnership for Growth, Tim took us from a small start-up organization to a major player in economic development and workforce development in the county,” Horton said. “With Tim's leadership, we initiated the Forward Habersham capital campaign which resulted in the commitment of $1.6 million of investment over the next five years. Tim worked tirelessly with county and city governments, existing industry, local education providers and other various stakeholders to collaborate on issues affecting our community.”
Services for Lee will be held in both Habersham and Cobb counties, where he has forged partnerships and friendships, according to a family spokesperson.
"I know that we will all deeply and personally miss Tim Lee," said Habersham County Commission Chairman Stacy Hall. "It was a privilege to have known him so well. I personally will never forget his thoughtfulness and kindness."
Gov Brian Kemp took to Twitter to share his condolences.
"Saddened to learn of former Cobb Chairman Tim Lee's passing," Kemp's tweet reads. "He was a bold leader who made a huge impact in Cobb County and beyond. Our prayers are with his family and loved ones as they mourn."
Habersham County Manager Phil Sutton also praised Lee's leadership.
"Tim Lee was a true community leader and served as an example to all of us," Sutton said. "His work with the Habersham Partnership for Growth will be long remembered."
Horton summed up Lee's leadership style in his statement.
“The biggest lesson I learned from Tim was about leadership,” Horton said. “Tim was a leader who did what was right for the community and he let the chips fall where they may.”