Former Macon city councilman Charles Dudley dies

Former Macon City Councilman Charles Dudley died early this morning.

Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said Dudley was pronounced dead at 5:57 a.m. at The Medical Center of Central Georgia at age 58.

Jones said Dudley died of a blood clot and respiratory failure. He had been admitted for an undisclosed illness.

Dudley was a Macon police officer before serving on City Council and is credited with saving the life of a man holding a gun to his head and threatening suicide in downtown Macon.

Most recently, Dudley was a truancy officer with the police department. But in the final months of former Mayor Jack Ellis' administration, he had served as Ellis' liason to City Council.

"Not only did he have the legislative skills, he had good rapport with a lot of the council members," Ellis said, adding that he placed a great deal of confidence and trust in Dudley. Ellis recalled first crossing paths with him in the late '80s, while Dudley represented Unionville on the council and shortly after Ellis had moved back to town.

Everyone who knew Dudley, the former mayor said, "will know that he always put the community first. That he had a genuine love, caring and concern for the people that he represented. He did make a difference in the lives of the people of Unionville."

Longtime Unionville activist Dorothy Johnson remembered Dudley as someone who contributed a great deal to the community.

"He did a lot of programs with us," she said. "He was always interested in the community. He worked with the kids; his slogan was 'Save the kids.' He would have a day with them. He solicited funds for the Unionville Improvement Association. ... He was a wonderful person, a wonderful person. It's a shock."

While on council, Dudley was instramental in getting the Unionville recreation center named in honor of Frank Johnson, Dorothy's husband.

Bibb County school board member Tommy Barnes remembered Dudley today as "always looking out for the little guy," whether it was working through Unionville's neighborhood association or in recent months working with youth at the Frank Johnson Community Center after school.

"He was very active and cared about Unionville," Barnes said. "I saw him three or four months aho at the Frank Johnson gym working with kids. He was outside talking to them about staying in school."

Barnes met Dudley through his uncle Wille Hill and as a high school student Barnes helped campaign for Dudley.

"I was sorry to hear about his loss," Barnes said. "It's a loss to the Unionville community and Bibb County as a whole," Barnes said.

Dudley was remembered as a good and dedicated police officer who championed the rights of minority officers while he was on the force.

In 1976, Dudley spearheaded a class-action lawsuit about the treatment of black officers in the Macon police department. The lawsuit was eventually settled in 1981 for $500,000 and a consent decree that required the city maintain a 31 percent minority representation across all departments in eight different levels of jobs, ranging from maintenance to management.

"He was always a good police officer," said Mike Carswell, deputy chief of police. "He was a decorated police officer. He was on the SWAT team. He was very vocal about equal rights and not afraid to speak up for what was right."

Telegraph staff writers Matt Barnwell, Phillip Ramati and Julie Hubbard contributed to this report.

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