Marvin Rentz passes away

Published 7:23 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marvin Rentz, a respected Brinson farmer and longtime former Decatur County commissioner, passed away Thursday, March 15, according to Ivey Funeral Home. Rentz was 87.

According to Rentz’ family, visitation will be held on Sunday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ivey Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held Monday, March 19 at 2 p.m. at the funeral home. Interment will follow at Roselawn Cemetery.

Rentz was first elected to the County Board of Commissioners in 1978. After experiencing health issues in 2005, Rentz announced that he would not run for re-election and attended his last meeting as a county commissioner on Nov. 12, 2006.

Email newsletter signup

During his time on the board, Rentz served as vice-chair for R.T. “Bobby” Willis before taking over the chairmanship when Willis retired in 1998. Rentz remained chairman until January 2006 when Commissioner Palmer Rich was elected to the position.

“Marvin was a very honorable man who was conscientious about doing a good job as a commissioner,” said Harold Lambert, who served as county attorney for 35 years, retiring in 2004. “He tended to avoid controversies and always attended the meetings regularly. He was really dedicated.”

This photo of Marvin Rentz, provided by his family, was taken sometime in the 1970s.

By the time he ran for his county commissioner seat in 1978, Rentz had already been farming for four decades. His uncle, Lamar Griffin, was a county commissioner and approached Marvin about running when he was ready to step down from the board, son Dennis Rentz recalled.

“At that time, he had to run in a county-wide election. Six men announced they were running, and my father ended up winning in a runoff election.”

Dennis Rentz recalled the county government was in poor financial shape in the late 1970s when his father became a commissioner. During Rentz’ time in office, and through the joint leadership of the late J.C. Dollar and other commissioners, the county’s finances had greatly improved in the early 2000s. Rentz and his fellow commissioners were instrumental in the planning and construction of the Decatur County Jail on Spring Creek Road in 1993.

“Marvin was a people person,” said Palmer Rich, who served on the Board of County Commissioners from 1999 to 2010. “He enjoyed life and farming and was a good family man.”

At the time of his passing, Rentz had been farming for 72 years and was the president of two local farming companies: Marvin Rentz & Sons, which owns 2,200 acres of land around Brinson; as well as Rentz Farm Supply, which he founded in 1960 near the junction of Brinson Airbase Road and Bethel Road in northwest Decatur County.

Rentz started a trucking operation in 1965 and began the county’s first center pivot irrigation system dealer, Rentz Irrigation, in 1970.

Rentz is survived by four sons—Steve, Don, Gary and Dennis—as well as nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

He also loved his family and provided the leadership that kept his extended family together, Dennis said. He was married to the former Doris Davis, who passed away in 1999. He attended Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Marvin Rentz, circa 2002


A lifelong farmer
Marvin Rentz, who was born in Baker County, Georgia, on November 1, 1924, began farming around the age of 11 or 12 years old, his son Dennis said. The elder Rentz’ father farmed in Baker County before selling the land there and bringing his family to Decatur County when Marvin was a child. He attended the Pine Hill School, an all-ages rural school.

The Rentz farm in Decatur County began at a size of 800 acres, which Marvin eventually grew to 2,200 acres.

Today, Rentz’ grandson Jimmy runs the irrigation business, while Dennis Rentz and his son, Kevin, run the farming operation, growing peanuts, corn, cotton and soybeans. The family also operates a peanut buying point along with its farm supply business, taking in other farms’ peanuts to sell in bulk to processors. Steve Rentz formerly operated Rentz Transport, the offshoot of his father’s trucking operation, however it is no longer operating.

Rentz witnessed a number of changes in the farming industry and was continually interested in adopting new advances in technology as they came along and proved useful, his grandson Greg Rentz said.

“When he first started, they were still using mules in the field. They would pick up the peanuts, vines and all, and take them out to the old airbase and let them dry out.”

Other advances Rentz was keen to jump on were higher-yield varieties of peanuts developed by the University of Georgia and of course, the center pivot irrigation system now in widespread use today.

“Robert Humphrey was the first farmer in the county to begin using a center pivot, around 1968,” Dennis Rentz said. “Of course, everyone saw how well it worked and my dad bought his first system in 1969. He began selling and installing them himself in 1970.”

Marvin Rentz

In recent years, Rentz was among the first farmers to use a tractor and combine manufactured as an all-in-one vehicle and also adopted GPS and sensor technologies which have made planting, fertilizing and harvesting more efficient, his son said.

Earl Nichols of Nichols Tractor Company, said he did business with Rentz for more than four decades and praised the quality of Rentz Farm Supply, which has sold chemicals, fertilizers and other products to area farmers for many years.

“Marvin was a really good farmer and a good asset to this community,” Nichols said. “You could also depend on any promises he made to you.”

Rentz didn’t have many hobbies outside of farming, as he was “always working,” Dennis recalled. The elder Rentz enjoyed hunting when he was younger and poured a lot of his time into the business of county government later in life. During the 1960s, Rentz Farms was one of the county’s major employers, with around 60 employees.

“Dad knew lots of folks, did a lot of business with people,” Dennis said. “He always saw the good in folks, gave them a second chance and helped a lot of people keep their farms during tough times.”

Some of his friends and farming contemporaries included John Bridges Sr., Douglas Dean, Earl Nichols, Hubert Parker and the late Luther Griffin.

Rentz served on the board of directors for Farm Credit for a number of years and was an investor and former director in Chem-Nut Inc. of Leesburg, Ga., which provides marketing for independent peanut buying points in 14 southern states.