• Home
  • /
  • Retired
  • /
  • Wayne Hill, Former Gwinnett County Commissioner

Wayne Hill, Former Gwinnett County Commissioner

I felt like I was interviewing a true celebrity when meeting with Wayne Hill, someone who helped shape the entire county for many years. He has retired multiple times from various positions but continues to work when he’s not spending time with his family or hunting.

What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Before I got out of high school, my father started a small cabinet company. I worked there for two years and he more or less turned the business over to me and I ran that company for 32 years. I ran for office out of boredom (starting a company was more fun than running it, I found) and got elected as County Commission Chairman for 12 years. After that, Charlotte Nash and I opened a consulting company for six years and then she decided to run for office. I turned over the consulting company to her. The Evermore C.I.D. (Community Improvement District) was struggling and people could not get along, so I got involved, made some board changes, and stayed with them for about a year and then retired again. Mr. Moreland called and asked me to work for him, saying that I had a couple of good years left in me! So that is what I currently do part-time. I have been there eight years. I keep in touch with people in surrounding counties and feel that’s my role. I don’t know when to quit! I speak at Leadership Gwinnett and am going to St. Simons, Georgia, where all of the regional commissions gather.

When I was in office, I got to do things I only dreamed about being a country boy with only a high school education. I was born at home in our house in Sugar Hill. I have met presidents, people running for president. I was head of the Atlanta Regional Commission, head of County Commissioners of Georgia and went on to be head of the National Association of Regional Commissioners. I have traveled to every state in the U.S. I was fortunate to meet George W. Bush at the Atlanta Airport and shook his hand at the base of Air Force I. I will never forget what he said to me when I told him that I was just a commissioner from Gwinnett County. He said, “Don’t ever apologize for that. I started on the planning and zoning commission in Texas!”

I have been very fortunate for all of the people I have met and the things I have done. I believe that common sense is the most important attribute a person can have.

What is your favorite restaurant in Suwanee?
I really don’t have a favorite! We go to Monterrey quite a lot for something quick.

How long have you worked or lived in Suwanee?
Since 1963.

What has kept you here?
I feel like I am “homegrown” and have never dreamed of living anywhere else, especially because my business was in Sugar Hill. I have a grave lot there, so I can’t go very far away!

How big is your family?
My wife Carolyn and I have three grown children, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren and one more on the way. I met my wife in high school and we married at 19 years old. We bought the property we live on from Mr. Sims (Sims Lake Park) for $350/acre and later the land all the way to Tench Road. It was a different world back then. We have been married 58 years. I think the reason we have stayed together is that we have always had our own interests.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met?
Harry West, head of the Atlanta Regional Commission, who became a good friend. He had great vision.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
I would like to take a cruise around the bottom of South America to the Amazon.

What is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
It must have been a Western in Buford. Mr. Bona Allen used to make saddles for cowboys and they’d come to the theater by train to get the saddles. Some famous people from the movies came to Buford.

What advice would you give a crowd of people?
Be who you are and do good things.

What is something on your bucket list?
To harvest a BIG white tail buck. I love to get out in the woods.

If you could take anyone to lunch (dead or alive) who would that be and where would you go?
George W. Bush and I would take him to a steakhouse. We could talk about how he came up and how I came up.

What is your favorite music? Name three bands you would like to see.
My favorite is country music. I would love to see Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and Brenda Lee. I have seen a lot of the old country stars on cruises we have taken.

What local business makes you the most nostalgic about Suwanee?
The businesses in Old Town Suwanee on Main Street in the historic district. I remember when Pierce’s Corner was open. I remember the postmaster who hung the mail for the train, and I had an uncle who used to ride the train home to Suwanee and worked for the railroad all of his life. My father-in-law is the one who put the old caboose in Old Town. Old Town is where I feel nostalgic.

What is your favorite thing about Suwanee?
Living in our little family compound on acreage with our horses because it feels like we are still living in the country. We plan to stay.

Would you rather speak to a crowd of 500 or sing to a crowd of 50?
Most definitely speak, not sing!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still in Suwanee and possibly still working some. I care about the county and city and like to be involved. It’s always good to know where you come from to understand where you’re going. I think that people need to remember their roots — to know where they came from, and many people don’t. We moved into our house in Sugar Hill in 1948 in a horse and carriage. There was no running water and the outhouse sat about where Peachtree Industrial Boulevard sits now. I watched them build lake Lanier and Interstate 85. It was a different world.

What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I was a pilot for 39 years and owned four different small planes. I loved to fly over the county to clear my head. There is a statue of me and some children at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center in Buford.

Leave a Reply