Bo Pounds: To friends,‘He was just one of those rare, rare people’
by Rachel Gray
May 17, 2014 04:00 AM | 12359 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Butch Thompson, right, and Bo Pounds were longtime good friends. ‘He was the brother I never had,’ said Thompson.<br>Staff/file
Butch Thompson, right, and Bo Pounds were longtime good friends. ‘He was the brother I never had,’ said Thompson.
Johnny Hembree, Ed Pounds and Mike Bernhardt stand with a new ambulance in this undated photograph.<br>Special to the MDJ
Johnny Hembree, Ed Pounds and Mike Bernhardt stand with a new ambulance in this undated photograph.
Special to the MDJ
Family and friends knew him as a lover of baseball and a storyteller, although Edgar “Bo” Pounds will be remembered throughout the country as the pioneer of modern emergency medical response services.

Pounds, who recently turned 78, died early Friday morning from complications relating to a heart attack he suffered a couple of months ago, said Butch Thompson, a longtime friend and former county commissioner.

After the heart attack, Thompson said his friend underwent bypass surgery and almost died from internal bleeding four weeks ago, but had been released from the hospital and seemed to be gaining strength.

Pounds raised four daughters in Marietta with his wife, Mary Jean, who died in 2007 from ovarian cancer.

In recent years, Pounds spent much of his time at the two farms he owned, one near Reynolds Plantation in east Georgia and one in Oconee. Each weekend he would return to Cobb to meet friends for breakfast.

Thompson, who knew Pounds for 40 years, said a person could not ask for a better friend. The two spoke every day, often two or three times a day.

“He was the brother I never had,” Thompson said. “He was just one of those rare, rare people.”

Pounds was born in Augusta in 1936 and was the son of a police officer.

After graduating high school, Pounds played minor league baseball for the Nebraska Tankers, a farm club for the Minnesota Twins.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, but never saw combat. In fact, his son-in-law, Pete Quinones, said Pounds would joke he was drafted to play baseball for the Army in Fort Hood, Texas.

“He had an extremely sharp wit about him,” Quinones said of Pounds, who he called “a unique character.”

Pounds’ passion for sports and children led him to chair the county’s parks and recreation department before the position was filled by a paid employee, Quinones said.

Former county Chairman Earl Smith said he was surprised to hear of Pounds’ death, having just seen him earlier in the week at the Marietta Diner.

Smith said he worked alongside Pounds in Cobb’s political scene.

“We were both kind of struggling with trying to get the Republican Party going in Cobb and Georgia,” Smith said. “And of course, we were successful.”

Smith said Pounds would find possible candidates, beg them to run and raise money for their campaigns.

“He was a guy that reached a lot of people,” Smith said, noting Pounds wanted to remain behind the scenes. “We were all a part of that and were aggressive to see Cobb grow.”

A man known for saving lives

After an honorable discharge from the Army, Pounds decided to become a Marietta city fireman because the work schedule allowed him to attend law school in the evenings.

While driving home one night in 1967, Thompson said Pounds witnessed a bad wreck on the interstate and was shocked to find several of the victims were receiving little to no medical treatment.

In Cobb, like most areas at the time, funeral homes would provide emergency ambulance services in vehicles more typically used as hearses.

“He decided even then what we needed was an ambulance service,” Thompson said about Pounds establishing a private ambulance service in Marietta, Metro Ambulance, which was staffed with returning Army and Navy medics from the Vietnam War.

In 1968, Pounds opened his first office off Lemon Street, directly behind the Mayes-Ward Funeral Home, and soon began expanding services into Atlanta, Cartersville and Gainesville, eventually establishing one of the largest paramedic ambulance services in the U.S.

“Everything he did was first class,” Thompson said, adding Pounds was constantly innovating and improving the emergency equipment stored in the vehicles. “There is no telling what he added to the industry nationwide.”

Although Thompson said Pounds did not expect or want notoriety, Quinones said he was fielding calls Friday from people all over the nation expressing condolences.

“He made a name for himself through the country,” said Quinones, who is now the president and CEO of Metro Atlanta.

After selling Metro Atlanta 20 years ago, Pounds opened another multi-state ambulance and rescue operation in his hometown of Augusta.

Quinones said Pounds, who never retired, always said, “I am going to die working.”

A fighter until the end

Pounds was the lead plaintiff in a high-profile, complex lawsuit filed in October 2007 that ultimately led to a complete managerial, and perhaps cultural, change inside the Cobb Electric Membership Corp.

Information brought to light amid the years-long litigation revealed gross mismanagement resulting in an ongoing fiscal audit undertaken after a completely new board of directors was elected in April of 2012.

Although taking on a large company is not something most men would do in their 70s, Quinones said he did not think the fight impacted his father-in-law’s health.

“He was tireless,” Quinones said.

The suit, which was often referred to as “Edgar H. Pounds, et al v. Cobb Electric Membership Corp.” due to Pounds being listed first among the plaintiffs, was officially closed last fall.

David Cohen, one of Pounds’ attorneys and good friends, said both Pounds and fellow plaintiff Thompson, were the driving forces behind the litigation, but they never asked for or received a dime for their efforts.

“He was a humanitarian and wonderful person,” said Cohen of Pounds’ efforts that achieved a transformation for Cobb EMC’s 177,000 residential and commercial customers, who are also members of the cooperative.

Thompson said when people told Pounds to give up, it only made him more adamant to carry on.

“He loved to win,” Thompson said.

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