Time to Grieve

The Death of a Father

"It was probably the saddest moment of my life."

“All I remember about that night is that it seemed to last forever. I’d talk about one thing or another with the family, friends, and reporters who were all there waiting for the end. Then along about seven Saturday morning I went out on the hospital lawn to watch the winter sun rise. In the distance I could hear a newborn baby cry. And then the news came that Papa was gone. It was probably the saddest moment of my life, but I didn’t have time to grieve. There was too much yet to be done.”

Editor's Note: Eugene Talmadge died in December 1946, only a few weeks before his inauguration ceremony as governor. Following his death, a long and public fight over the governorship quickly ensued. Over the course of this controversy, three men claimed to have the most right to the governorship, Herman Talmadge, the lieutenant governor elect, M.E. Thompson, and the most recent governor, Ellis Arnall.

Supporters of Eugene Talmadge and his son, Herman, argued that Herman should fill the vacant governors’ seat due to the hundreds of write-in votes he received during the general election. Those who opposed the policies of Eugene Talmadge and his son argued M.E. Thompson as the lieutenant governor elect should become governor. The Georgia legislature put the issue to a vote on January 15th, 1947 but even after the legislature’s decision, the conflict continued.