Sam Massell, Former Atlanta Mayor & Four Pillar Honoree Passes Away

The Council for Quality Growth and our members are saddened to hear the passing of Sam Massell, a legacy civic and public service leader and Atlanta’s mayor from 1970 to 1974. Arrangements for services are being prepared by the family and will be at the Temple at 1589 Peachtree St. at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 16th.

“Sam Massell is responsible for many of the programs that has left a lasting legacy on our region.  His administration is credited with establishing MARTA, building the first enclosed arena in Atlanta (the Omni) and improving the Five Points district with Central City Woodruff Park, all without raising taxes. Sam will be greatly missed” said Michael Paris, Council President and CEO.

A life-long resident of Atlanta, Sam Massell has had successful careers in real estate brokerage, elected office, the field of tourism and association management. He spent twenty years as a realtor, becoming Vice President of Allan-Grayson Realty Company, then one of the city’s largest commercial brokerage firms. During that time, he was elected a charter member of the Atlanta Real Estate Board’s Million Dollar Club and was honored three times by the Georgia Association of Real Estate Boards for creating the “Outstanding Transaction of the Year.”

While in real estate, Massell became extensively active in a wide range of civic work, which eventually led to the political arena. He served twenty-two years in elected offices, including eight as President of Atlanta’s Board of Alderman (now known as the City Council) and four as this city’s Mayor. While holding that office, he was also chosen as President of the 15,000-member National League of Cities. In addition, he has served a four-year term on the Board of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, and was a board member of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. Among other achievements, his administration as Mayor is credited with establishing MARTA (Atlanta’s mass transit program), with developing the city’s first enclosed arena (the Omni Coliseum), and with providing the “Five Points” Central City Woodruff Park, all with no call on ad valorem taxes. He also pioneered minority opportunities in city government, appointing the first female to Atlanta’s City Council and the first African Americans as City Department heads.

Sam was the founder and previous President of the prestigious Buckhead Coalition. This organization of CEOs of major businesses in Buckhead pooled their strengths to nurture the quality of life and guide the orderly growth of Buckhead.

In 2012, Sam Massell was awarded the Council for Quality Growth Four Pillar Award that recognizes an outstanding individual whose accomplishments embody the “Four Pillars” of leadership and success: Quality, Responsibility, Vision, & Integrity. The Four Pillar Award & Tribute is a unique honor that celebrates the recipient’s significant contributions to economic development and the region’s quality of life. This prestigious award is unparalleled in the Atlanta region and has come to be known as the highest honor bestowed for the aforementioned contributions.