Former Orange County Attorney leaves behind lasting legacy
Geof Gledhill left behind a legacy to Orange County that extended well beyond his 32 years of service as County Attorney. Thanks to his commitment to sustainable farming and natural resources, his legacy will live on. Gledhill died Dec. 16, 2017.
While he served as Orange County Attorney from 1976-2008, the county’s population almost doubled. This growth brought numerous legal issues as many wanted to preserve the area’s rural roots while others pushed to accommodate the growth.
“Geof Gledhill was an innovative and courageous county attorney, always willing and frequently able to help the commissioners and staff find a path to achieving our goals within the law,” said Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs, who has been on the board of commissioners since 1998. “Among his many strengths were integrity, creative skepticism, and an ability to listen and then fashion possible solutions to legal problems. He was a strong defender of the county's land-use planning while seeking flexibility and fairness and the sound expenditure of public resources.”
In addition to his legal work for the county, which included authoring the county’s Civil Rights Ordinance in June 1994, Geof also devoted his talents to many community boards and organizations. He was one of the founding members of the Richard E. Whitted Foundation, which awards scholarships each year to high school graduates from Orange County Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. He also held leadership positions with Moorefields (a wildlife refuge and historic house located near Hillsborough), the Orange County Cattlemen’s Association and the Anathoth Community Garden boards, among others
Geof grew up in Bucks County, Pa., the son of George and Betty Gledhill and brother to Denise. He attended Pennsylvania Military College, now Widener University. He moved to Orange County, purchasing land in the Cedar Grove community, after graduating from N.C. Central University School of Law.
While Geof was a devoted counselor, both in private practice and public service, Windy Hill Farm became his life’s work and passion. After retiring from the county in 2008, he learned everything he could about sustainable farming practices.
In June 2017, Geof and his wife, Jane, placed a permanent conservation easement on a 30-acreportion of their property. The easement protects 3,000 feet along Lick Creek and three streams that feed into Lake Orange, an important water supply for the Town of Hillsborough. The easement also protects water supplies for Durham and Raleigh located farther downstream.
When he died, Geof was in the process of applying for a conservation easement for the farm.
“He was a true friend to those who, like him, made Orange County our home,” said Jacobs.
Besides being a loyal Phillies, Eagles and Wolfpack fan, Geof was a faithful supporter of many local, state, national and global environmental, animal, and human rights organizations. Donations in Geoffrey's honor and memory can be made to almost any such organization but some specifics are:
- Anathoth Community Garden
- Eno River Association
- Triangle Land Conservancy
- Southern Environmental Law Center
- Farmer Food Share
Geof was a loving and devoted son, husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend.