Interview with Ben Slade, September 23, 2013

Collection: Georgia Environmental Oral History Project

Dublin Core


Ben Slade was born in Savannah, Georgia, and lived in several coastal towns during his childhood. He graduated from North Fulton High School in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University. He returned to St. Simons in 1961 and began a 36 year career at First Federal Savings Bank. At the time of his retirement from banking, Ben served as Chairman and CEO. He is currently Executive Director of the St. Simons Land Trust.
Ben is past chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, and many other civic organizations. He was the founding President of Habitat for Humanity of Glynn and the St. Simons Land Trust. Ben also chaired the Glynco Naval Air Station reuse committee in the 1970s, the results of which received national recognition from the Department of Defense and other organizations.
In this interview, Ben Slade discusses getting involved with environmental issues and his friendship with Georgia representative Reid Harris. He discusses Harris's efforts to pass legislation to protect marshlands during Lester Maddox's administration. He talks about Kerr-McGee's plan to strip-mine the marshes and the development of a community coalition to protect the salt marshes. Slade discusses the attitude of the South towards government intervention and the difficulty of balancing community interests with marshland protection.
Slade discusses his efforts to repurpose the Naval Air Station at Glynco and to attract businesses other than heavy water users. Slade also discusses Superfund sites such as the Hercules Manufacturing plant (and its Toxaphene pollution and contamination). He also talks about Escambia Wood Treatment facility that used creasote to treat logs to be made into telephone poles.Slade discusses the development of the St. Simons Land Trust and the work of the organization, including the John Gilbert nature trail. He mentions the importance of utilities to development on the coast. Slade also talks about St. Simons' "greenprint" and the land trust's goal of keeping 15-20% of the land in public form. He talks about sites on St. Simons Island such as Cannon's Point (which was preserved by the trust) and the African American population of St. Simons, including the Harrington School House (which may be a Rosenwald school). Slade also discusses efforts to link green spaces and the issue of beach re-nourishment.





Oral History Item Type Metadata


47 minutes


Ben Slade and Betsy Bean, “Interview with Ben Slade, September 23, 2013,” UGA Special Collections Libraries Oral Histories, accessed September 21, 2023,