Friends remember the contributions and humor of developer John Aderhold

By Maria Saporta

Hundreds of people turned out Monday at the Peachtree Presbyterian Church to celebrate the life of Atlanta developer and civic leader John E. Aderhold.

Aderhold, passed way on Aug. 10, four days shy of his 86th birthday.

But his passing did not stop his family from throwing a birthday party in his honor on Sunday.

“The entire family went to the Varsity,” Rev. Victor Pentz said to the congregation attending the service. The whole family included Aderhold’s widow, Helen; his son, Tom, and his grand-children and great-grandchildren.

Pentz then described Aderhold as a builder of cities. “They just don’t make them like John Aderhold anymore, “ Pentz said. He quoted retired SunTrust CEO Jimmy Williams, who said Aderhold “could see into the future.”

The service was sprinkled with several funny anecdotes and stories about Aderhold and his unique way of doing business and interacting with others.

During a business meeting, Aderhold seemed to relish when the opposing party would say: “No.” “It’s always nice to get the first no out on the table,” Aderhold would say. And then they would get down to business.

“There was always that humor and that grin and that chuckle — ha, ha, ha, ha,” said developer Charlie Brown, imitating Aderhold. One time Aderhold called Brown to tell him he had gotten into an organization. “It was almost unanimous — ha, ha, ha,” Aderhold told him.

Talmadge “Tal” Dryman, a long-time friend and college buddy, told a story about when Aderhold went to a “fancy restaurant” and the waiter brought over warm water bowls with lemon so they could clean their hands.

“Waiter, waiter, we didn’t order any lemon soup,” Aderhold said.

Another time, Peachtree Presbyterian decided to change up its music selection with a more “modern” sound. Rev. Pentz said Aderhold was seen whispering to Helen the words: “What the hell is this?” She responded by stomping on his foot.

The service did acknowledge all the contributions Aderhold had made — working for Scripto and later Rayloc, helping put the deal together for the Georgia Dome, being one of the first developers to bring residences in the heart of downtown, serving in an oversight capacity during the Olympics, renovating the old Cabbagetown mill as well as many other projects.

But Brown summed it up this way.

“John is one of those people you’ve just got to love,” Brown said. “Maybe it’s because he loved us too.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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