Mike Cranford may have hated politics, but his love of public service drew him in.
Before Tuesday morning’s Macon-Bibb County Commission meetings, Mayor Robert Reichert prayed and shared the news of Cranford’s death.
Cranford, 70, an attorney with a penchant for classic cars and fast motorcycles, had been dealing with a recurrence of cancer for the past 18 months.
He died at 4:35 a.m. Tuesday at Pine Pointe Hospice on Peake Road, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.
His wife, Teresa, was holding his hand, according to her Facebook post.
“He never let life pass him by, he always grabbed hold of it full full throttle,” she wrote.
Her husband never met an injustice that he didn’t defend, she noted.
Cranford was born in Washington, D.C., in 1946 and moved to Macon with his family two years later.
When he was just 15, he worked as an ice boy at the Magnolia Court Motel that his uncle Julian “Tena” Cranford built to catch Florida-bound travelers in the years after World War II.
After Cranford finished at Lanier High School, he went into the safety equipment business at age 19.
For the next two decades, he started his own business and would go on to buy and sell a motorcycle shop, a chemical business and a nightclub.
While working, Cranford juggled college courses at the former Macon Junior College and Mercer University, where he earned a degree in political science and communications.
When he was 35, Cranford began working on his law degree at Woodrow Wilson Law School in Atlanta and became a criminal defense and personal injury attorney.
Cranford was first elected to Macon City Council in 1995, but he lost his seat to Councilman James Timley in 1999.
When longtime Councilman Jim Lee died in 2005, Timley and Councilman Ed DeFore urged Cranford to run.
With the urging of his wife and others, Cranford ran and won.
Reichert later praised Cranford for living “life to the fullest” and “fighting for the underdog.”
“He was a great member of the Macon City Council, a wise Finance Chairman, and a good steward of public funds,” the mayor said in a statement.
Former Macon resident Marty Willett said preserving the history of Fort Hawkins is a major part of Cranford’s legacy.
“Mike’s leadership assured the realization of that wonderful log cabin visitors center that is one of the biggest accomplishments at the fort,” Willett said.
Cranford held a giant pair of scissors as the ribbon was cut on the new building in August 2014.
The avid scuba diver also was actively involved in the Georgia Children’s Museum, Boy Scouts, Museum of Arts and Sciences, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, the American Cancer Society and other organizations.
“He believed in Macon and practiced what he believed,” Willett said.
Cranford’s funeral is set for 3 p.m. Friday at Hart’s at the Cupola.
Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Thursday.
Information from The Telegraph archives contributed to this report.
Liz Fabian: 478-744-4303, @liz_lines