History and holiday magic on display

From left, author Margaret Walters, Bobbi Burruss, former Gov. Barnes and Dan Papp

 Former Gov. and Mrs. Roy Barnes open their Marietta home for launch of A.L. Burruss biography…

Georgia (Nov 7, 2011)

Former Gov. and Mrs. Roy Barnes open their Marietta home for launch of A.L. Burruss biography and tour of decked halls

  More than 100 guests streaming through the Marietta home of Georgia’s former first couple, Roy and Marie Barnes, on Nov. 4 got a double dose of good tidings.

Guests at the official book launch event had a chance to reflect and reminisce about A. L. Burruss, the successful Georgia statesman and entrepreneur whose life and work are captured in a newly published biography by Kennesaw State English professor Margaret Bennett Walters.  The author signed copies of the book released last month by The Kennesaw State University Press.

For most, it also was the first chance to be immersed in the magic of the holiday season as created in the festively decorated four-story Barnes’ home — replete with 17 uniquely adorned  Christmas trees and splashes of holiday dazzle in every nook.

An A-list of Cobb County and state legislative officials, including Georgia State Sen. Steve Thompson, Rep. David Wilkerson and State Supreme Court Justice P. Harris Hines joined Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp and other top university administrators, family members, business associates and friends to celebrate Burruss’ legacy and enjoy the Barnes’ hospitality.

The book, titled “A.L. Burruss: The Life of a Georgia Politician and a Man to Trust,” chronicles its namesake’s rich family history, his success in the poultry and other businesses, and his influential career in politics, initially as member of the Cobb County Commission and eventually through nine terms in the Georgia General Assembly from 1969 until his death in 1986. 

Especially noted was Burruss’ success in garnering state funds to support a rapidly growing Cobb County and his support for higher education in Georgia. Burruss is enshrined at Kennesaw State in the A.L. Burruss Building, which houses the Coles College of Business, and the A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research, which provides technical support and applied research services to nonprofit and government entities that serve the public.

It was the institute’s former director, Carol Pierannunzi, and Laura Dabundo, a Kennesaw State English professor, who issued a call for book proposals on Burruss, author Walters said.

“I began researching him and he sounded like a fascinating man,” said Walters, who took three years to complete the Burruss biography, her first book.  “The more I found out the more I wished I had known him. He was successful in everything he worked at, yet he was someone who really just wanted to serve.”

Barnes, described in the book as a close friend and longtime colleague in the General Assembly, said of Burruss: “Al is the epitome of the American Dream, someone who came from very humble beginnings, worked hard, was eternally optimistic and then decided to give back.”

Burruss is described by many who knew him well as humble, even self-effacing, someone who never sought political office for personal gain or recognition.

Asked what she thought her husband of nearly 40 years at the time of his death would think about his life’s work captured in a new book and the array of people who turned out to commemorate him, Bobbi Burruss said, “He’d be humiliated. He never liked blowing his own horn.  But I think deep down, he’d be very honored.”

For more infromation on the A.L Burruss biography and other releases from The Kennesaw State University Press, please visit http://www.kennesaw.edu/ksupress/ 


-- Sabbaye McGriff




A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu