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UNG honors mayor of Cumming

Gravitt lauded for dedication, vision

POSTED: March 30, 2014 12:05 a.m.
Crystal Ledford/

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt received the Presidential Leadership Award on Friday night during the University of North Georgia’s second annual Scholarship Ball at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.

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CUMMING -- Cumming’s longtime mayor received the highest honor presented by the University of North Georgia during an event Friday night.

H. Ford Gravitt — now in his 48thyear of service to the city of Cumming, first as a city councilman and for more than four decades as mayor — was presented with the Presidential Leadership Award during the university’s second annual Scholarship Ball at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.  

First held last year in Gainesville, the black-tie event raises money for student scholarships and celebrates the university’s supporters. Next year, the ball will be held in Dahlonega.

Gravitt received the Presidential Leadership Award, which is given rarely and only to those who have shown the highest level of support for the university. He was honored for his long-standing efforts to create a higher education campus in Forsyth County.

“Tonight we have the special privilege of honoring a very special leader who is known for making things happen,” said UNG president Bonita C. Jacobs. “With vision and determination, he led Cumming and Forsyth County officials and community leaders in efforts to bring higher education to this glorious community of Cumming.”

Nearly 20 years of work toward that goal was realized two years ago when the university opened its Cumming campus on Aquatic Circle, near Ga. 400 at Exit 16.

“As a result of his perseverance, UNG will increase the educational attainment of students in this community and help our community continue to prosper,” Jacobs said.

Besides leading efforts to bring the campus, which opened with more than 500 students and has grown to more than 750 students this past fall, Gravitt also personally funds two scholarships each year, Jacobs said.

One is given annually to deserving student from Forsyth County in honor of his late wife, Joan Carolyn, while the other is in honor of his alma mater, Forsyth County High School.

“It’s been a great pleasure and I’ve been very honored to have been able to have helped North Georgia with the limited ability that I have to provide scholarships to the school,” Gravitt said.

He was humble in his acceptance of the award, thanking others who had helped him throughout his life.

“It’s been a long ride and I’m one of the luckiest persons in this room tonight probably,” he said. “I couldn’t have done near the things that’s happened in Cumming, Ga., and Forsyth County without the help of a lot of people.”

Gravitt attributed much of his desire to help his community to his mother, who raised him and his eight siblings alone after his father passed away when Gravitt was 13.

“She instilled from an early age, the love and commitment, hard work and dedication and friendship to your fellow man,” he said.

He also praised James Otwell, the founder of Andean Chevrolet, who served as a mentor to him after his father passed away.

“He was the reason that I got into politics,” he said. “James Otwell meant so much to me.”

He said “one of the biggest cheerleaders” of his life was his wife, who passed away in 1998.

Friday’s ball, which had a Roaring ’20s theme, also raised more than $300,000, and pushed the total raised for scholarships since last year’s ball over the $1 million mark.


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