McDONOUGH — The city of McDonough lost its longtime Community Development director last week.
Rodney Heard, 50, died on Aug. 10 reportedly from a heart attack.
Heard served as a community development planning specialist for the city from 2001-2010. In January 2014, Heard became the community development director. Before coming to the city, he worked as a planner for Henry County.
“He was so talented and gifted with the ability to see into the future,” said McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland. “I consider him a master visionary and genius in planning and zoning.”
Copeland said Heard’s fingerprints are all over the city in every development for the last 20 years.
“He was a perfectionist and everything he did he did with a lot of class,” he said. “He is going to be sorely missed. We are just heartbroken for his family. Everyone at city hall loved him. We’ve been doing a lot of praying.”
Prayers, shock, love and sadness permeated social media posts when city officials announced Heard’s passing.
“Rodney was a great guy and an incredible asset to the city,” said David Glover in a Facebook post. “He was devoted and worked tirelessly to make McDonough a great place.”
Others called him a good friend and coworker.
“Worked with Rodney when he was still at the county and later in McDonough,” said Bob White. “Always found him to be the consummate professional.”
Steve Cariola said Heard will be remembered fondly and missed deeply.
“I’ve worked with Rodney on tons of development projects during his role as director. His leadership will remain a shining light within the city.”
Many, many others commented on what a kind man and great guy Heard was.
“I am so deeply sad to hear this. Rodney was kind, smart and funny person with so much insight and talent within the development world. I will deeply miss him. He was my friend,” said Sharon Cobb.
From working out at the gym to enjoying at a meal in a restaurant, he touched many.
“We love Rodney like family,” said Luanne Pearce, who met Heard and his family at Cracker Barrel.
Jacob Brown worked at a local Starbucks where Heard was a regular.
“He really was a great guy and always had advice when you needed it.”
Amanda Speer, too, remembered him from Starbucks.
“He was always so nice to all of us, and we had his iced coffee ready to go even before he came in,” she said. “He would always chat with us about life and make us laugh.”
Erica Gaines and many others fondly remember him from Gold’s Gym. Heard wrote the following message of encouragement to fellow workout buddies:
“If you are alive, you have the opportunity to live w/o regret. Make time for the things and purists that bring you joy. Life is a choice. It is your life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honesty, choose happiness!”
Heard is survived by his parents, Larry and Sandra Heard; brother, Ryan Heard; sister, Rebecca Heard; and future brother-in-law, Dekota Oechsle.
Funeral services were held on Aug. 15 in the East Chapel of Cannon Cleveland Funeral Directors with Pastor Bill Petree and speaker Preston Dorsey officiating.