Making an impact
Stamps reflects on travels, Newton County’s future
George Moreland Stamps has worked toward the betterment of Newton County through various civic organizations and government committees since 1986.
Although Stamps is a seventh generation Georgian, he was born in China to Southern Baptist missionaries.
He met his wife Helen Paty, also the child of missionaries, at the Shanghai American School when they were in the eighth grade.
“She broke her leg and she came in with this big cast and that’s the first time I noticed her,” Stamps said. “She was by far the best looking girl at the school.”
They have been married 61 years.
In 1941, Helen’s parents returned to the United States and resided in Oxford. Stamps joined the Air Force and flew B-17 Flying Fortresses over Europe in 20 combat missions during World War II.
He said his height determined whether he would fly a bomber or a fighter plane in the war since men 5-feet-10-inches or taller had to fly bombers because of the larger cockpit.
“You had to be strong to fly a B-17 too, because you had to use your own muscles because there was no hydraulic assist,” Stamps said.
He later served in the Army and the Air Force Reserve for 26 years before retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
After the war, Stamps returned to the United States and enrolled at Wake Forest University in North Carolina to study physics. Helen attended Duke University.
“At the time Wake Forest and Duke were only 23 miles apart — before they moved it to Winston-Salem,” Stamps said.
As a junior in college, Stamps and Helen married the day after Thanksgiving in 1946 in a chapel on the campus of Emory University. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to New York where Stamps attended graduate school at Columbia University.
He vividly remembers their first winter in New York, the year of the great 1947 blizzard.
“There was still three feet of snow on the ground in March,” Stamps said.
Stamps also attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University and worked as a professor at the New York Maritime College.
In 1951 he began working for Hogan Labs on a flatbed scanner for new technology known as a facsimile machine.
“At that time only pictures were sent over the phone for the Associated Press and the United Press International,” Stamps said.
One night while dining with several newspaper editors at Rockefeller Center, he mentioned he wanted the machines to work faster so the media could have pictures more quickly.
“One man said we only need about 18 photos a day so they don’t need to go faster,” Stamps laughed.
In 1959 the founder of Hogan Labs retired and sold the company to California-based Telautograph. Stamps moved his family to a beautiful home on the Pacific Coast facing Catalina Island.
“Ever since then we’ve been hooked on being able to look out over water,” Stamps said.
During his tenure as chief engineer in California he decided to close a factory for a week to fix a mechanical problem with a machine the company produced. Because his superior thought the machines should have been shipped and repaired on site, he fired Stamps.
“That was a wonderful thing that happened to me because then I was free,” Stamps said.
Stamps then went to work for Magnavox as program manager during the development of the first Telecopier — or fax machine that transmitted over a regular dial telephone — introduced in 1966.
Because Magnavox did not have much of a niche in office products, Stamps facilitated the company’s teaming with Xerox to market the Xerox-Magnavox Telecopier.
In 1972, Magnavox stopped producing fax machines and sold to 3M Corporation, but Stamps didn’t like the idea of moving to Minnesota, so he took a job with Xerox as corporate manager of business development.
Then in 1976, executive shifting lost him his sponsor at Xerox and he decided to start his own consulting firm.
“I had never had the courage to go into business for myself before this,” Stamps said.
Until 2000 when Stamps “sort of” retired, he headed his own consulting business and worked with clientele domestically as well as in Europe and Japan.
In 1986 he and Helen moved to Oxford to take care of her elderly mother and both immediately began to serve as administrators of community organizations.
Stamps has served as president of the Kiwanis Club of Covington, Friends of the Library and of the Newton County Historical Society during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
He chaired the Newton County Facilities Board Inc., which held title to the Newton County Judicial Center and Turner Lake Recreation Facility until loans were paid off from funds generated by the county’s second Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Stamps also has served on the Newton County Development Regulations Committee, Zoning Ordinance Committee and Yellow River Stakeholders Committee.
At the beginning of the decade he was asked to chair the Impact Fee Advisory Committee for the county.
“I guess I was the only one wearing a coat and tie, so they picked me,” Stamps said. “But, I said I won’t be chair, I’ll be a co-chair.”
After extensive research, the committee suggested the adoption of impact fees and of an additional SPLOST.
“At that time nobody was in favor of impact fees,” Stamps said. After many presentations given to various organizations by Stamps, the Newton County Board of Commissioners voted to adopt impact fees.
However, revenue was not collected for years due to a lawsuit brought on by the Newton County Home Builders Associa- tion whose members argued the residential fees were too high and the commercial fees too low.
The issue has since been settled, but Stamps said irreparable damage has been done to the county’s transportation infrastructure during the litigation due to the time lost to improve and widen roads.
He said state and federal funds could have matched locally generated revenue at the time the board adopted the fees, but in a tight economy there is now less to give.
“We used to be a little town out in the country,” Stamps said. “We’re now suburban Atlanta.”
He said he has personally observed and experienced successful and unsuccessful public transportation systems in the large cities he has lived in such as New York and Los Angeles and visited regularly such as London, Paris and Amsterdam.
“You can’t have a city of five million or more people without subways or commuter rail — it just won’t work,” Stamps said.
He said he would like to see subway line extended to Stonecrest Mall and rail lines upgraded to double tracks and barred crossings for the amount of and speed of trains needed for commutes into and from Atlanta. He said the undertaking, although outrageously expensive, is necessary to the vitality of the metro area.
He said public transportation takes cars off of the roads and out of parking lots and building more expressways only attracts more traffic.
“Atlanta will choke itself to death on traffic,” Stamps said, “and businesses won’t want to come to Atlanta because of the traffic — some already don’t.”
Stamps said living in Newton County is wonderful because of the many people who give back to the community and think creatively about progress.
“In Newton County,” Stamps said. “You have all these people who have vision for the future.”
Eyes on the future: George Stamps pauses on the front steps of his Oxford home Friday afternoon.
Industrial award: Marshal Ginn of the Covington Tree Board presents Beth Bruette and Eddie Huckaby of C.R. Bard with the Industrial Tree Stewardship Award at the annual Arbor Day program on Friday.