[The late Furman Bisher always wrote a column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thanksgiving Day, citing things he was thankful for. Today we honor him with a repost from September 2015.]
When The Atlanta Journal-Constitution picked 50 people who have made the largest contributions to the city’s pro sports teams, a big name was overlooked.
That would be Furman Bisher, a fixture in the AJC and its predecessors for almost six decades.
A native of North Carolina, Furman joined The Constitution in 1950. Never one to let underlings eat up travel budget, he became Atlanta’s ambassador to big events and freelanced for national publications.
When politicians decided their city should be minor league no longer, Bisher played matchmaker. A deal to relocate the Kansas City A’s fell through. The Braves agreed to leave Milwaukee and play in Atlanta in 1965, but the move was delayed a year by the courts.
The Falcons also arrived in 1966. Furman backed Lindsey Hopkins to be the owner, but got behind Rankin Smith when the NFL awarded him the expansion team.
Both teams played at the new Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Furman was on the Stadium Authority board and unsuccessfully pushed for a MARTA stop.
At The Journal (he switched to the larger afternoon paper in 1955), Furman churned out columns, won national awards and ran the sports department in a non-endearing manner. He once called a reporter into his office and bellowed, “I’ve got an assignment for you. Find another job.”
Furman was eased out of management as the writing awards and Hall of Fame accolades piled up. He worked at the AJC well into old age, still popular with readers. (Think of him as a talent who could not be imitated, like radio’s Paul Harvey.)
Furman retired in 2009, unappreciated by bosses who cared more about agendas than readers. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 93.
For insiders: Selah.
For everybody else: R.I.P.