February 24, 2017 | News

Cobb's respected finance chief dies at age 54

Writer: Ross Williams

Published February 20, 2017
Marietta Daily Journal

Cobb County’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Jim Pehrson died yesterday morning after a long battle with cancer. He was 54.

“My dad took his last breath here on earth this morning at 6:20,” Pehrson’s daughter Laura wrote on his Facebook page. “Because of his faith, he is now in the presence of Jesus, fully healed and no longer in any pain. My family is grateful for the many prayers that you have prayed on our behalf over the past months.”

According to Pehrson’s Facebook page, the family will have a service in his honor at Northstar Church in Acworth on Thursday at 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Loving Arms Cancer Outreach, which can be found at lovingarms.support.

Those who worked with Pehrson praised both his financial acumen and his personal character.

“Jim Pehrson was one of the most wonderful men you’re ever going to meet,” said former County Chairman Tim Lee. “He was absolutely brilliant in his trade … He was instrumental in helping make sure that the county was well represented during the Braves discussion. And he was one of the strongest Christians I’ve ever come to know in my life.”

Pehrson posted many Bible verses and thoughts on spiritual matters on his Facebook page, along with updates about his treatment for peritoneal cancer, a cancer which develops in a layer of tissue that lines the abdomen.

“Courage is continuing to move forward despite the various trials and obstacles we may encounter, and while not knowing the outcome moving forward anyway, trusting in God,” he wrote Jan. 19. “Putting faith into action.”

County Transportation Director Jim Wilgus worked with Pehrson for years and said he faced his illness with courage, concerning himself with others even when he was dealing with struggles of his own.

“Two weeks ago, when we gave him the Silver Eagle Award (for outstanding county employees), obviously he was not doing very well and he was in a real battle,” Wilgus said. “When we were talking to him, he sat there and told me he thinks about me all the time … He told me to just hang in there. The fact that he was worrying about me when he was clearly fighting so hard, that just speaks volumes about him.”

County Manager David Hankerson said Pehrson always looked out for others, often serving as a mentor to younger county employees. Hankerson called Pehrson a “role model” who was “loved by every county employee.”

Pehrson also shared his expertise with financial officers from other counties. He taught in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government’s Local Government Finance Officer’s Certification Program and lead sessions on revenue forecasting at the Government Finance Officers Association.