Former County Commissioner Mr. Joseph “Joe” Murray Rivers, passed away last Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at St. Joseph’s Hospital surrounded by his loving family. Rite of Christian Burial Service for Mr. Joseph “Joe” Murray Rivers Jr. will be held 11:00 A.M., Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at St. James Catholic Church located at 8412 Whitefield Ave.
Joe Murray Rivers has served as the District 2 representative on the Board of Commissioners of Chatham County since 1985. During his tenure, Mr. Rivers became the board’s acknowledged leader on public transit, an active supporter of the Commission-Manager Plan, vocal proponent of increased minority participation in purchasing and in employment and avid supporter of minority and small business development.
Nowhere can his leadership be seen in more tangible results than in public transit. As a County Commissioner, Joe co-sponsored the plan that restructured the community’s transit system. Through this restructuring, it became transformed from one of the worst in Georgia to one of America’s best (APTA Award Winner, 1989). Besides his leadership in championing the restructuring before the community and General Assembly, Joe served as chairman of the Countywide Transit Task Force in 1985 and in 1991. He also served on the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which sets planning policy for transportation in the community. Joe Murray Rivers served as Region III President from 1991-1992 while remaining active in COMTO. Joe’s interest in health and indigent care prompted his service on the Chatham County Board of Health, which has expanded service in the inner city during his tenure through the Teen Clinic, Women’s Clinic and the Mid-Town Health Clinic. Joe helped to champion an innovative approach to indigent health, which led to the reopening of the Westside Urban Health Center in downtown Savannah. As a member of the State Mental Health/Retardation/Substance Abuse Commission, he helped to restructure the delivery of these services statewide through the development and passage of HB 100.
Joe Murray Rivers remained active in the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG). In 1990-1991, he served as chairman of the General Government Policy Committee as well as the ACCG’s Transportation Policy Committee. He has served as director of the ACCG’s Board of Managers for the 1991-present term.
On the national level, Joe remained active in the National Association of Counties and served on the Board of Directors and as chairman of NACO’s Community Economic Development Steering Committee.
Joe Murray Rivers owned the Olympic Sport Shop, a downtown Broughton St., Savannah business. Because of his work on behalf of loan programs for small and minority business owners, he received a “Special Achievement Award” from the Coastal Area District Development Authority (CADDA). He also served on CADDA’s Board of Directors.
Joe Murray Rivers was born in Savannah, Georgia and graduated from Beach High School. He also attended the U.S. Air Force Institute (University of Maryland), City College of New York and Savannah State University. Joe Murray Rivers was preceded in death by his father, Joseph Rivers, Sr., mother, Sarah Frazier, sisters Evelyna Pope, Catherine Murray and Sandy Anthony; brothers, Clarence “Gippy” Green, Vernon aka “Poor Murray” Murray and LeRoy Green. He is survived by his fiancé Virgie Williams, Savannah, Georgia, sons Kenneth Bryant, Kiyauni Rivers and Rashad Rivers all of Savannah, Georgia; sister-in-law Helen Murray, Savannah, GA, nieces, Calanthia Green, Clinton, MD, Chanta Green, Raleigh, NC, Karen (Mark) Fripp, Port Royal, SC, nephews Boyce (Jerl) Green, Davidson, North Carolina, Stanley (Gina) Green, Columbia, SC, Ronald Murray, Denver, CO, Edgar(Gayle) Green, Sanford, FL, James “Jada” Pope, Aransas Pass, TX. He also leaves to cherish his memories a host of grand nieces, nephews and other relatives and many friends. In lieu of flowers please send donations to St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church 441 E Broad St, Savannah, GA 31401 for the Heritage Project. Adams Funeral Services, Inc. are in charge of the services.