Atlanta City Councilman Ivory Young dead at age 56

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The city of Atlanta has lost one of its leaders Friday. Atlanta City Council Member Ivory Lee Young, Jr. passed away at an area hospital. He was 56.

Young, who represented Atlanta’s District Three, was on leave undergoing a stem-cell transplant since early September.

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The Alabama native service on the Atlanta City Council since January 2002. He is credited with helping to overseeing the completion of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium which falls in his district, helped shepherd the successful “Westside Revive” program, was active in the redevelopment of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive corridor garnering more than $65 million for the completion of the Historic Westside Village project, and was working to fully fund police and fire operations in the city.

Young also played an instrumental role in the healing of the city following the shooting death of 92-year-old English Avenue resident Kathryn Johnston by an Atlanta Police officer during the execution of a no-knock warrant. Young was credited with lending his support behind the creation of the Atlanta Citizens Review Board and the abolition of the Disorderly Conduct 6 statute.

Young held a Bachelor of Architecture from Hampton University, where he played trumpet on The Marching Force. He was also a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), and former Vice-President of the Atlanta Chapter.

He was the son of a retired army sergeant major who served in the United States Army for 30 years which lent empathy in his civil service to those who dedicate their lives to the armed forces.

While Young wanted to be an architect and was in the industry for more than three decades, his colleagues will argue that it is what he built while serving the city which made him stand out.

Young had been serving on the Atlanta City Council’s City Utilities and Community Development/Human Services committees as well as the Committee on Council and had previously been chair of the Zoning Committee. His district includes several neighborhoods on the westside which include English Avenue, Washington Park and Vine City.

He was said the be an avid Atlanta sports fan with a strong affinity for the Falcons.

Funeral services have not yet been announced.

Reaction from various city leaders about the news was swift and were in unison of their praise for his service.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in a statement sent to FOX 5 News wrote:

“Derek and I offer heartfelt condolences to the entire Young family. His love of God, family, and community was evident in his word and deeds. I was privileged to call Ivory a colleague and friend and am eternally grateful for his love and devotion to our city.”

His fellow council members also weighed in on the loss:

"With the passing of Councilmember Ivory Lee Young, Jr., the Atlanta City Council has lost a veteran legislator, cherished colleague and dedicated community advocate.  Our hearts are deeply saddened by his death as we send our prayers and unwavering support to his wife, Mrs. Shalise Steele-Young, and family. Councilman Young fought as hard for his constituents as he did for his own life, during a long battle against cancer. May he be remembered for the measurable accomplishments he made on behalf of citizens in Southwest Atlanta and most of all, for his indomitable human spirit."  – Council President Felicia A. Moore

“Working with Councilmember Ivory Lee Young, Jr. over these past 17 years has been an incredible gift. He was a person grounded in faith, and a generous, kind colleague. He brought joy to this job; his love for the city and his district was evident to all. Listening to Council Member Young speak - especially when he was speaking about District 3, his neighbors and constituents - was like going to church. We have suffered a tremendous loss with his passing. My prayers are with his family. May the respect and admiration we hold for Ivory offer them some comfort in this difficult time.” – Carla Smith, Atlanta City Council, District 1

“Ivory was truly a bright light on the city council. He was a committed leader and positive role model to the constituents in District 3. As a resident of Vine City, he recognized that it was a challenged neighborhood, but he stepped up to the plate and was able to give back to the community in many ways, including the construction of Cook Park. He also believed in students getting a solid education and assisted with the reopening of M.R. Hollis Innovation Academy in his district. During his tenure, he expanded parks, enhanced streetscapes, and contributed to the rebirth of west Midtown to help strengthen and further stabilize the northwestern portion of his district. He was a true champion of the people. He will be missed not only as a colleague, but also as my friend.” – Cleta Winslow, District 4

“I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of my dear friend and colleague Ivory Lee Young, Jr. He and I have worked closely together for more than 25 years and in our shared westside communities. He was a prince of a man, a dear friend and a respected colleague. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Shalise, and the Young family.” – Michael Julian Bond, Post 1 At-Large

“Ivory was a believer. He believed in God, his community, his wife, his family, and all of Atlanta. We know he believed because there wasn’t a time that he wasn’t a great representative for all of them.  I’ve known him for only five years, but his warmth felt like a lifetime. I’ll miss his stories, smile, and strength. We won’t be the same. May God provide comfort and strength to his wife Shalise and his entire family.” – Andre Dickens, Atlanta City Council, Post 3 At-Large