Back in the day, people who were in government were not called bureaucrats.
Instead, they were public servants — meaning they served the public in the best sense of both words.
And that describes Richard Stogner, an institution at the city of Atlanta, Fulton County and most recently DeKalb County as executive assistant to the CEO.
Stogner is retiring after more than 40 years in public service. And his friends, colleagues and admirers are throwing him a toast this Sunday evening by telling tales and showcasing his professional career and his unique personna.
In a recent visit with Stogner at Manuel’s Tavern, he reflected that he had worked for the first black mayor of Atlanta — Maynard Jackson; the first black Fulton County Commission Chairman — Michael Lomax; and the first black CEO of DeKalb County — Vernon Jones.
Stogner also served as the financial director for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games from 1994 to 1999.
The people who are scheduled to speak at the salute are colorful in their own right.
The toast will be kicked off by Burrell Ellis, the current CEO of DeKalb County.
There’s an all-star list of toasters:
former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell who is now CEO of the Buckhead Coalition;
former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones;
Metro Atlanta Chamber President Sam Williams;
former Fulton County manager Sam Brownlee; community activist Tally Sweat;
King & Spalding COO Pat Glisson;
USO President and CEO Mary Lou Austin; and
George Berry — another one of those true public servants who was chief administrator for the city of Atlanta, general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Industry and Trade.
Stogner will have an opportunity to give “the rest of the story;” Angelo Fuster will emcee the evening; and then closing remarks will be made by Susan Hood, director of DeKalb’s Parks, Bond & Green Space Office.
The top organizer of the event is Leadership DeKalb and its executive director Sara Fountain. It will be at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center on Briarcliff Road from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The event is free, but reservations are necessary. You can make a reservation by calling the Leadership DeKalb office at 404-373-2491 or visiting the www.leadershipdekalb.org website and clicking on events.
Fountain said organizers hope people will make a legacy gift in Stogner’s honor to the USO Georgia, a group that provides care and support for the country’s military personnel. Stogner has been on the board of USO Georgia for 20 years.
As I said, Stogner has been one of those rare public servants.