Eddie DeLoach, Berry class of ’74, says college prepared him to lead
By Sarah O’Carroll for Hometown Headlines
In his first year as mayor of Savannah, Eddie DeLoach is already earning high marks from community leaders for his inclusive, no-nonsense approach to civic leadership.
The 66th mayor of Georgia’s oldest city is a member of Berry College’s class of 1974, and he says it was his Berry experience that played such a big part in informing his career and forming his character.
“Berry prepared me because it let me see a lot of different people,” says DeLoach. “I had everything in a box and there was no doubt that that box took care of everything until I went to college.”
DeLoach says religion classes with professor Jorge González helped him appreciate a range of worldviews, a capacity especially valuable leading a city of more than 140,000.
González’s classes, among others, “opened my eyes more than anything as far as a different concept than being a Southern Baptist,” he says. “It was the first time that I was really challenged as far as religion was concerned. They gave you the chance to stop, listen and realize how many ideas are out there.”
History classes also were a significant influence, he says.
Leading a city so rich in history and so dependent on that foundation for tourism, DeLoach is putting his Berry B.A. in history to work. He credited Gordon Carper for instilling in him such a strong appreciation for history.
“If you don’t know history, you don’t know where you come from, and if you don’t know where you come from, you don’t have an anchor, and you don’t have any direction,” he says. “I think that’s what I got from Berry—I knew who I was when I walked out.”
Going to work: DeLoach says the combination of playing two sports at Berry (track and soccer), holding two on-campus jobs and keeping up with coursework further encouraged a strong work ethic he brought to his college experience, a work ethic that he says continues to define him.
“It prepared me with the ability to work,” says DeLoach, who founded Tidewater Landscape Management. “Berry gave me leadership skills that I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere.”
Before being elected mayor, DeLoach represented the Seventh District in the Chatham County Commission, serving from 1992 to 2000.
His Berry experiences, in part, explain how as mayor, DeLoach continues to promote the values of hard, honest work. His brainchild, Summer 500, is a collaborative internship program dedicated to preparing rising high school seniors for the workforce. As the name suggests, the goal is to match 500 young adults with 500 paid internships this summer to teach them practical workplace skills. Summer 500 kicked off May 31.
Lifelong friends: Most of all, when thinking back on Berry, DeLoach says he’s thankful for the meaningful relationships he developed, friends that he says he still keeps up with today.
“There’s probably about 20 of us that still keeps close tabs on each other,” he says. “It’s not so much how well you’ve done but how well you’re doing. And that’s a big deal. . . . You make friends at Berry, lifelong friends.”