Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
“Public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people.” – Margaret Chase Smith.
Billy Mashburn’s dedication to public service began in August 1992 when he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Mac Whitaker on the Franklin Board of Aldermen (now the Franklin Town Council. For the next 25 years Mashburn was the definition of doing the job efficiently and honestly, with proof in his successful re-election campaigns in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2013. Mashburn was once again on the ballot for re-election this week which if he was re-elected would have given him nearly three decades of unwavering faithful service to the town of Franklin. Mashburn’s tenure in public service was tragically cut short, not because he wasn’t more than capable of the job, but because on Nov. 1, Mashburn passed away after a three-year battle with cancer.
“We lost a good man in Billy,” Council member Joe Collins said Monday night during the November Franklin Town Council Meeting. Collins, who served the town alongside Mashburn for the longest of the current board eloquently spoke of Mashburn’s impact on the town of Franklin while fellow board members and town staff fought back tears. Mashburn’s seat on Monday night was marked with a bow in his absence. “I don’t think there was ever a time when I didn’t know Billy. Billy grew up on Depot Street when there were houses on Depot Street and was the same age as my brother so we grew up side by side … Billy will surely be missed on this board and in this town.”
Mashburn graduated from Franklin High School before attending Southwestern Community College where he received two degrees in Business Administration and Paralegal Technology. Mashburn attended Clemson University and remained a lifelong Clemson Fan.
In addition to being a public servant, Mashburn’s professional career included a paralegal career that began in the1970s with Jones, Jones, and Key in Franklin. He later worked at law firms in Highlands and Sylva before retiring from the Law Firm of Russell Bowling in 2014 when his health declined.
Mashburn worked as a real estate paralegal in Bowling’s office for 18 years, beginning in January 1997.
“Billy was loved and respected by my staff, other paralegals and attorneys, and most every client that he assisted,” said Bowling. “I valued Billy’s knowledge, experience and his ability to work with clients. On many occasions, I told others that Billy knew real estate law as well as, or better, than some attorneys. Billy loved real estate law and he enjoyed helping people.”
During this tenure on the town board he served on several committees and previously held the position of vice-mayor for the Town of Franklin. Billy loved his time serving on the Franklin Town Board, and he had a passion for the water and sewer infrastructure. He was instrumental in the construction of the water and wastewater treatment plants.
“Billy was sworn in on Aug 3, 1992, and has served on the board continuously since then,” said Franklin Mayor Bob Scott. “I believe he may have been the longest serving board member in the town’s history. He has served faithfully on just about all the town committees and served several terms as vice-mayor. He was probably the most informed board member on the town’s infrastructure and it was not uncommon to see him out with our public works employees looking over the town.
Billy was a personal friend. We often were at odds about some issues but after the meetings we were back to being friends. I spent many hours on the phone with Billy concerning town happenings. His dedication to the town was absolutely unwavering. I cannot begin to tell anyone how much he will be missed as will his knowledge of how the town operates.”
Council member Barbara McRae spent her first tenure on the board serving alongside Mashburn and before being elected to the town council, McRae often covered town meetings and events while she worked for The Franklin Press.
“During my four years on Town Council, I gained great respect for Billy Mashburn,” said McRae. “He was totally dedicated to the town and demonstrated great personal integrity as a member of the council. His institutional memory was exceptional and will be impossible to replace. He was a fine man and a true public servant, and we will miss him greatly.”
Beyond his fellow board members, Macon County leaders mourn the lost of Mashburn and all he did for both the town of Franklin and the county as a whole.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to Dinah and the family,” said Ronnie Beale, vice-chair of the Macon County Board of Commissioners. “Billy Mashburn was the definition of a true public servant. In my years as a county commissioner I had the pleasure of working with Billy on several projects. What you need to know is Billy Mashburn always worked not only for the citizens that lived within the city limits but all Maconians. His leadership and friendship will be sorely missed and never replaced.”