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Howard Chatham, 92: Pioneer Residential Homebuilder, Developer

Chatham built thousands of homes and a few churches in his long career.

Howard Chatham, 92: Pioneer Residential Homebuilder, Developer

Atlanta icon, pioneer residential homebuilder and neighborhood developer, Howard Chatham, at 92 years of age, died on Jan. 1, 2014.

He leaves behind a loving family and a legacy of unparalleled business accomplishments, national honors, recognitions and charitable initiatives throughout greater Atlanta.

Howard Chatham was a man of tremendous vision and faith. James Howard Chatham was the oldest of seven children born to Fred and Mary Chatham. He and his family worked hard raising crops and livestock as sharecroppers in the years immediately following the Great Depression in what was formerly known as Milton County.

Soon after graduation from Milton High School in 1939, he served his country in the US Army during World War II. He was stationed in London, where he was assigned to assist in troop logistics throughout the European theater.

Upon his return home to north Fulton County in 1946, he began working for Fulton County as a surveyor. He soon met and married a beautiful young lady by the name of Grace Elizabeth Hardeman.

With the help of his family and friends from local farming communities, he began building a home with his own hands on Hardeman Road in northern Buckhead. Before his home was completed, another young veteran couple wanted to purchase it. Howard talked with his new bride and promised to build her another home with the profit from this one. He began constructing a home next door and the same thing happened. Thus was born Chathambilt Homes in 1948 with only $200 and a dream at a time when only a few full time homebuilders existed in the area.

With his strong faith in the God who sustained him, along with his hard work and long hours, he gained the reputation as "The Master Builder." Widely recognized for extraordinary craftsmanship, integrity, and quality construction, Chathambilt homes are, today, highly sought-after. When the inventory of unsold houses began to rise in 1956, Howard assembled a small team of real estate agents and began his own real estate brokerage company called Northside Realty Associates Inc. With the help and leadership of the Isakson family, Northside grew to become one of the largest privately owned real estate brokerage companies in the country.

Along the way he began several related businesses including American Lighting, Heritage House Decorating, Advance Electric, Chatham Land and Development, Crabapple Nursery and Landscaping and Chatham Communities. By the end of his career, he had built more than 6,000 homes and developed more than 150 neighborhoods.

But of all his achievements, he was most proud of his spiritual investment in the community through the churches he planted. He, along with other charter members, planted Northside Baptist Church in Roswell (formerly located in Sandy Springs) and Castleberry Road Baptist Church in Cumming, as well as a home for developmentally challenged men in Alpharetta known as the Chatham Group Home. Despite all the accomplishments and accolades he earned in his career, he was most passionate about his relationship with Christ and leading people into a personal relationship with Him. Howard Chatham was one of the most respected Atlantans and a role model of honesty, integrity, humility and service to mankind.

Howard Chatham is survived by his wife of 66 years, Grace, his sister Joyce and J.D. Stephens; his children David and Rhonda Chatham, Ken Chatham, Tim Chatham, and Jan and Richard Smythe; his grandchildren Gabe and Mellette Chatham, Myles and Brooke Chatham, Lance Chatham, Sydney and Chase Dalton, Cassie Chatham, Paul Chatham, Chelsea Chatham, Jake Chatham, Rachel Smythe, and Emily Smythe; his great grandchildren Brianna Ray, Katelyn Chatham, Faith Chatham, Maddox Chatham, and Ella Chatham.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Mary, and his siblings, Willene, Marvin, Martha, Raymond, and Sybil.

Visitation Services were held at Roswell Funeral Home on Jan. 4. Funeral services were held at Northside Baptist Church in Roswell on Jan. 5. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Northside Baptist Church 11125 Houze Road Roswell, GA 30076.

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