Q&A with Henrietta McIntyre

October 31, 2012 

Q&A with Henrietta McIntyre

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Warner Robins

OCCUPATION: Former mayor, retired civil servant, telephone employee and public servant

QUESTION: How old were you when you came to Warner Robins?

ANSWER: Twenty.

QUESTION: At 20, could you ever have imagined you’d one day be in the city’s hall of fame?

ANSWER: Never in a million years, not a million. It was hardly a city when I got here and -- this is mean to say -- I hated it. I cried the first week here.

QUESTION: Why is that?

ANSWER: It was raining the whole first week. It was a mess. I came by bus to Macon from Lenoir, N.C., and rode what I call an open cattle car to here, an open bus with straps to hold, and roll-up canvas for windows. I met my sisters here, who had gone to work on (Robins Air Force) Base and started in on me (to join them) . . . I was born and raised in Lincoln County (Ga.) but worked for the telephone company in Lenoir. I went back to work for the phone company here after a while. One of my sisters came here first to teach for our cousin Charlie Williams, who was principal at Bonaire School.

QUESTION: You came what year?

ANSWER: 1944

QUESTION: When did it feel like home?

ANSWER: I began to like Warner Robins a little when we got a new apartment on Davis Drive and got to know a few people. I started thinking I could stay a little while. I guess it felt like home when my husband Robert and I got this house off Pleasant Hill Drive in 1950. I felt like this is where I’ve settled, this is home.

QUESTION: What’s your 1953 Warner Robins tornado story?

ANSWER: I was working at the telephone office on Commercial Circle and we saw trash and tires and all sorts of things flying up in the air down over the Ziegler Apartments. Our boss called us from Macon and said stay there as long as folks want to come in and use the phone. Not everybody had phones and lines were down, so we’d let people come in and call for free.

It was chaos, just chaos. Nobody knew what to do, but we were all trying to help each other ... that really is when people drew together and it started feeling like a community. We’ve grown a lot and maybe it’s not as evident, but still, when people get in trouble in Warner Robins, their neighbors are there for them.

QUESTION: What’s your best Warner Robins memory?

ANSWER: It hasn’t been that long ago. It was in 2007 when we moved into the new building at Sacred Heart (Catholic Church). I headed the building committee and I have to say it’s one of my proudest moments.

QUESTION: Worst memory?

ANSWER: It’s very personal, but I have to say when we lost our first child in 1950. Our other son, Kevin, now lives in Bainbridge.

QUESTION: Give a tip-of-the-iceberg list of some of what you’ve been involved in.

ANSWER: Family, our church, civil service, the telephone company, Jaycettes, the Community Chest then United Way, Pilot Club, Elks Auxiliary. I helped with Happy Hour, was a charter Pink Lady at the hospital, the chamber of commerce, I was elected to city council in 1972 and was mayor in 1993. Let me say this: I never dreamed of recognition like the hall of fame. I didn’t do it for that. I just think everybody ought to give to the community they live in.

QUESTION: What was a big accomplishment for you during your long time on city council?

ANSWER: First I think, was that a woman, two of us, were elected to council for the first time. I think we brought a dignity and the men acted a little nicer. But I never shirked my job because I was a woman. If I needed to put on blue jeans and go look at a ditch, I did it.

Another thing, I got an OK to build an addition to the back of the recreation center if I could do it at no cost. The city had no money. Well, we got going and got enough concrete, blocks and supplies to do it, but we couldn’t get the trusses for the roof. Robins Federal Credit Union was building their building across the street and I noticed they had about what we needed. Some couldn’t believe I was going to go ask for some, but I did. They not only said yes, they said how many do you need and when do you want them. I was very proud; it didn’t cost the taxpayers a cent.

QUESTION: What drew you to politics?

ANSWER: My daddy never held office, but he was always politicking for somebody. I’d go around with him and it seemed like fun. I just always wanted to. I ran and lost in 1964, then waited until our son was in high school to run again and won.

QUESTION: As someone who invested the majority of their life and energy into Warner Robins, how do you feel about it and its leaders now?

ANSWER: I feel better about them than I did not too long ago when all the shenanigans were going on with city council, I sure do. I may be being ugly, but I say there’s still room for improvement, but it’s much better than it was back in, I guess, 2010-2011.

QUESTION: What’s the greatest thing about Warner Robins?

ANSWER: The people. Plain and simple. It’s still the people here.

Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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