Today, Walters’ work has come to fruition in the form of a 115-page biography, “A. L. Burruss: The Life of a Georgia Politician and a Man to Trust.”
“This is about telling his story, but it’s also bringing him to life again, and I want others to read about him and to be inspired,” said Walters, who is also the executive director of the Georgia Writers Association and Associate Professor of English at Kennesaw State University. “He’s a great inspiration to live all of our lives in the service of others and to take care of our fellow human beings.”
A.L. Burruss, who passed away in 1986 at the age of 58, has numerous Cobb landmarks named after him, including an elementary school and park in Marietta and one of the main buildings on the KSU campus.
“I think what surprised me was how generous a man he was, and yet he always wanted to be anonymous with his generosity,” Walters said. “That seems to be very unpolitician-like, as most politicians generally want credit, but he was not like that. He was really a team player, and the people I spoke to, like Roy Barnes, all echoed that same trait about him and even cried when he spoke about him, and he’s been dead for over 20 years. It is amazing how inspiring he was and continues to be to everyone who knew him.”
Burruss’ widow, Bobbi, said she was very proud of the book detailing her late husband’s life, although “it was sort of hard to read with tears in your eyes.”
“I’m just amazed at what a beautiful job she’s done,” said Bobbi Burruss, who read the book over the weekend. “I’m just really proud of it and the way she managed to bring it right up to date with the time having passed. She did a marvelous job, and I just hope it can bring some good with it. There were many memories that were brought back up in the book. A lot of yesterdays, and it’s quite exciting that I’m still seeing the work he did making an impact.”
One of his most notable accomplishments, Bobbi Burruss said, was being on the forefront of developing the SPLOST as a representative in Georgia’s House of Representatives.
Bobbi Burruss said she was hesitant at first when she heard Walters was writing a book about her late husband, but after reading the book, she knew “everything was right.”
Walters said she took on the challenge of writing the story of late politician and owner of Tip Top Poultry in 2004, when she received a call from officials at the A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research and KSU Press for someone to write his biography. Walters said she received no payment for the book but was excused from teaching some of her classes so she would have more time to focus on it. Walters said it took her nearly three years to do interviews and research Burruss’ life, but only a few months to write the book. Before the book, Walters said she had only been published in academic journals.
And although Walters said the project took longer and much more work than she expected, she is “thrilled” that she did it.
“It’s really made me fall in love with the writing of biographies,” said Walters, who is now working on another biography about the late Pittsburgh philanthropist Liliane Kaufman. Walters said she has also developed a course in writing biographies in KSU’s Master of Arts in professional writing program. She is also one of the founding members of Biographers International Organization.
Holly Miller, manager of design and production at KSU Press, said the book is available from the press’ online store at www.kennesaw.edu/ksupress, as well as all major online bookstores, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, for $13.95. KSU’s campus bookstore also has copies for sale at the same price. Today, from 3 to 5 p.m., Walters will be available at the KSU Center, 3333 Busbee Drive in Kennesaw, in Room 327 to sign books for attendees. The biography will be on sale for $12 plus tax at the event, Miller said.