WINSTON COUNTY - Harold Sachs may be remembered by many as having a profound effect on the Republican party - from the state level to nationally - but to those who knew him more personally, he was a family man who put God and family first.
Sachs, who most recently was working as chief of staff for the Alabama Republican Party in Birmingham, passed away on Nov. 9, after only a month of sickness and complications resulting from COVID-19.
Sachs first went to the doctor with what was believed to be a severe sinus infection on Oct. 9. Two negative COVID tests later, Sachs received a positive test for COVID on Oct. 21, all the while showing worsening symptoms, with a crippling effect of the sickness being double pneumonia.
Sachs was admitted to Crestwood Hospital, which was highly commended by the Sachs family for its care and treatment of Harold during his sickness.
During his time there, Sachs was moved from the COVID unit to ICU, electing himself to go on the ventilator due to experiencing difficulty in breathing.
Bonnie Sachs, Harold’s wife of over 50 years, recalled she and her husband had followed all precautions related to COVID-19 by wearing facial coverings and using proper hygiene procedures.
In fact, the Sachs family continues to be mystified as to how Harold contracted COVID-19.
“We didn’t panic. We didn’t live in fear,” Bonnie said. “We carried on our lives just as we would, but we were cautious. He wore a mask wherever he went. He used sanitizer, gloves, and he did everything the right way, and he still caught it.
“I know if Harold was here today, he would say, don’t live in fear. Don’t let this grip you. Be cautious. Be careful, but carry on your life,” Bonnie pointed out.
Harold is not being remembered for the final month of sickness, but years of service to his family, as well as his community, Winston Co unty, the state of Alabama and the nation.
“We were married 50 years and eight months, and in 50 years and eight months, he never one time raised his voice to me,” Bonnie said. “He was a strong man of conviction.
“His moral conduct was so strong in serving others, serving God and serving community,” she pointed out. “He was the same person wherever you saw him.
“He was a deeply, deeply spiritual man. He lived every day of his life serving God,” Bonnie pointed out. “I never in all the years we were married, never heard him say a curse word, ever. I never heard him speak disrespectfully of another person.
“He was just the kindest and most gentle man you would ever know,” she said.
As far as a family man, Harold and Bonnie’s lives belonged to each other.
“He was my whole world,” said Bonnie. “I was his world, and I knew that.”
Harold’s world outside of Christ was Bonnie, their two daughters, Debbie and Dallas and his grandchildren.
“He lived his entire life to leave a legacy of a Christ-led life for our family,” Bonnie continued.
In fact, Harold had a game with his granddaughters that became a way of life, where one or the other would say, ‘I Love You, I said it first.’
Now, after Sachs has gone, that legacy has been left behind where if he was still here, he would tell them, ‘I love you. I said it first.’
Harold has left behind five granddaughters and two grandsons.
Through the years, Harold had become well known - from the courthouse in Winston County to the state capitol in Montgomery to the nation’s capitol in Washington, D.C.
For the past 30 years, Harold has served in various capacities within the Republican party, from Winston County Republican Party chairman, vice-chairman of district 5 and most recently as the Alabama GOP’s Chief of Staff, having been named to that position under then-GOP Chairman Bill Armistead then later working under current GOP Chairperson Terry Lathan--a position Harold held until his death.
In fact, Harold was the longest running chief of staff not only in the state but the nation, according to Bonnie.
“He has probably done more to grow the Republican party than probably anyone they have had on staff there,” Bonnie pointed out.
For years, the state Republican party voted by paper until Harold brought in a clicker system where votes could be taken electronically, officials said.
Whether Harold sat down with presidents, congressmen, ambassadors or the homeless, he considered them all the same, family members said.
“He was a peacemaker. He was a negotiator. I could go on forever,” Bonnie said. Harold believed in people and would often take a chance on them, helping promote them and help them go on to great accomplishments in life.
For example, Harold believed in a person on his staff who was invited by a news outlet to visit New York. Two years later, that person turned in her notice and now owns three successful restaurant chains in the state--all going back to Harold having faith in her, according to officials.
As chief of staff for the Alabama Republican Party, Harold worked with close friend Armistead to raise funds to establish a new location of the state party’s headquarters in Birmingham.
Jerry Mobley, chairman of the Winston County Republican Party, said the loss of Harold has deeply affected the party.
“It’s a long chain, and a link is broken,” said Mobley. “We are going to miss him.”
Mobley noted that Harold was the go-to man when someone needed information.
“There were three things in Harold’s life, God, family and country. He believed strongly in those three in that line,” Mobley added.
“If you were going to war, you wanted to take Harold with you,” he pointed out.
Ronnie Mobley stated she had known Harold and Bonnie for many years.
“It all started with the Republican party,” she said.
“Harold and Bonnie both are truly conservative, Christian people that you love. We have socialized with them and have been out to eat dinner with them.
“Harold was concerned about his neighbor and helping people,” Ronnie added. “He was just a good person. He was number one. He was the person you wanted as a friend.”
Harold worked each year with Jerry Mobley and county party vice chairman Greg Farris to plan the party’s Ronald Reagan fundraising dinner, which, thanks to Harold, would bring in top notch speakers of historical and national significance.
One in particular that stood out was Joe Arpaio, who served as the 36th sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona for 24 years, from 1997-2017. During his tenture, Arpaio took an outspoken stance against illegal immigration, styling himself as America’s Toughest Sheriff.
Harold was also instrumental in landing Chess Bedsole, a key staff member of the Donald Trump administration , as well as former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to speak at the annual dinners.
Harold was also the man to receive the special plaque presented on behalf of Trump, commemorating Winston County for having the highest voting percentage for Trump in the nation during the 2016 presidential election.
Harold’s life left a deep impression on U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt, who worked with him through the years.
“I got to know Harold when I first ran for office back in 1990 for the state legislature, but got to know him even more when I ran for Congress,” Aderholt said.
“Under (Harold’s leadership) with the state party, every county has been increasing in its Republican vote, even the counties that used to not vote Republican at all,” Aderholt pointed out.
“He’s going to be missed by a lot of people around the entire state,” Aderholt pointed out.
“He was someone who was very committed in his Christian faith, but most of all, he was also committed to the principles of the Republican party.
“He served the county the state and the nation because he was very instrumental in making sure Republicans like myself could go to Washington,” the congressman added.
Harold and Bonnie had the privilege of attending the presidential inaugurations of George W. Bush in 2000 and again when he was reelected in 2004.
Winston County Circuit Clerk J.D. Snoddy, a member of the county Republican party, has known Harold for at least 30 years.
“I taught where his daughters went to school,” Snoddy recalled.
“Harold was a fine individual. He was a good Christian person. He was a good role model for his children and everyone around him,” he added.
“Harold was all about helping Winston County, and he worked well with people who are in office. He would try to steer you in the right direction when you asked him for advice.
“Harold was one of those people that when the good Lord took him from the world, he left the world a better place than when he found it,” Snoddy pointed out.
“If everybody lived their life like Harold did his, the world would be a much better place,” he added.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.