SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – He is the namesake thousands of travelers notice – when they step off a bus in Savannah. Joe Murray Rivers worked tirelessly on the Chatham County commission to bring people together by wheels. He’ll always be known for what he accomplished on foot.
Many remember he constantly walked Broughton and his district to connect to neighbors. He changed the face of Savannah and CAT Transit. His closest friends will always remember rivers as a man who never stopped caring and working for the people of the Old Fort community and Chatham County as a whole.
“Joe didn’t die, no Joe didn’t die, I don’t care where you go in this city, in this county you’re going to see a part of Joe, you’re going to hear a part of Joe,” says commissioner James Holmes.
If you did not know Joe just ride a bus in Savannah. The New York transient who called the Old Fort home spent his twenty years in service to Chatham County for fair transportation. Growing up on Savannah’s east side, he and his close friend James Holmes homes saw first hand the troubles city transit was having in predominantly African-American neighborhoods.
“When you sat on a Broad local you’re on a bus that is dilapidated, it’s not clean, if it was raining you had to move from one side to the other,” says Holmes who succeeded Rivers as the 2nd district Chatham County commissioner.
Rivers solved that, he worked tirelessly to better the transit system. All of his efforts shown in the inter-modal center off of Oglethorpe Avenue that in 2013 was named after him.
“It’s where all the buses from all over the community come together in that one place and that was the type of man he was I mean he certainly could be anywhere and be comfortable,” says Savannah alderman Van Johnson who really thought of Rivers as a mentor and of course close friend as he was to many who had the passion to serve the community.
Commissioner James Holmes has known rivers since they were kids. If you ask him, he remembers the first day he met Joe. Both of them have changed the lives of hundreds of children through sports. They also changed business in Savannah. The two integrated Broughton Street with the first black-owned business there.
“They, James and Joe were my inspirations, and like I said Joe’s legacy will always live in Savannah,” says state representative Mickey Stephens who worked hard to campaign for Rivers as well as work alongside him once Stephens went to Atlanta.
Business, politics, and recreation are all a part of him, but who Rivers was, he was a man passionate to serve and solve problems within the community.
“His nature is caring and giving, so to summarize Joe to one sentence is, caring and giving to people other than giving to hisself,” Holmes says.
Services for Rivers will begin Tuesday. His wake will be held at 6 P.M. Tuesday at the St. Benedict Church along East Broad Street. His celebration of life service will be Wednesday at 11 A.M. at the St. James Catholic Church along Montgomery Cross Road.