Saying goodbye to Forsyth County was a difficult decision for Andy Walker, but family comes first.
Walker has announced his resignation as president and chief executive officer of Forsyth Community Bank, a branch of Buckhead Community Bank.
He accepted a position with Alliance Bancshares in Dalton, where he will also serve as president and CEO.
"It was a difficult decision to leave Buckhead Community Bank, a bank I believe to be one of the better banks in the greater Atlanta area, but my desire to put family first was paramount," said Walker, who founded First National Bank of Forsyth County in 2004 prior to selling it to Buckhead Community Bank three years later.
Marvin Cosgray, CEO of Buckhead Community Bank, said Walker's resignation was unexpected, but "certainly understandable."
"He is very well recognized and we will miss him," Cosgray said. "I think the world of Andy ... and we will be working together going on down the road. We're not in competing market areas, so we see it as a way to help each other out and complement each other."
Sam Story has taken over Walker's role at the Forsyth Community Bank, Cosgray said.
"He's been with us since day one," he said. "Both Andy and I feel like Sam is the right man to continue on with the fine work that Andy has established."
In Dalton, Walker will take over for retiring Alliance CEO Charles Allgood on Jan. 1.
Walker said his father-in-law, Jackson P. Turner, has a large ownership position at the bank and "needed and wanted someone to come up and assume those duties."
"So it's a family situation and family trumps," he said.
While Walker will be missed in Forsyth's banking industry, his absence could leave an even greater void in the community.
In 2000, Walker became the charter president of the Johns Creek Rotary Club.
"I would say without his involvement, it would not have happened," said Allen Bowns, charter member. "It's a gain for Dalton and it's a loss for our community.
"He was someone who wanted to be on the field and play. He cared about the community he lived in."
Walker also served as a chairman of the board for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
He led the search process for the chamber's current president and CEO, James McCoy. The two have since become friends.
"He has had an enormous impact on this entire community," McCoy said. "He led the chamber through arguably one of the most important transitions it has gone through in certainly the recent past.
"He will certainly be missed greatly, but we wish him nothing but the best in Dalton."
After living in Forsyth for eight years, Walker said he will miss being part of the community. Moreover, he will miss the people.
"When I first came to Forsyth County, [I said] I had come to paradise ... but at that time we were referring to it that way because of the high growth rate that generated a great deal of opportunity for everybody," he said.
"But when you live in Forsyth County long enough and you start to get to know all the history and the people, you understand that the real value in Forsyth County, the real paradise, was the people, their warmth, their strength and their goodness."