Athens, Ga. – Noted demographer Douglas Bachtel, an emeritus professor in the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences, died Thursday, Aug. 8, in Athens after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
His funeral service will be held Saturday, Aug. 17, at 1 p.m. at Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, 1211 Jimmie Daniel Road, Bogart.
In his 33 years at the university, Bachtel, 68, was highly regarded for his ability to turn dry, complicated statistical data into easy-to-understand information that allowed elected leaders, business groups and citizens to make better-informed decisions about the future of their communities, said Sheri Worthy, head of the college’s department of housing and consumer economics. In particular, he served as editor of the Georgia County Guide, the Georgia Municipal Guide and the Georgia Housing Guide.
“Doug’s wisdom, wit and generosity will be missed,” she said. “He made a positive impact on the state of Georgia over the years, and he was an invaluable member of the department of housing and consumer economics faculty.”
Known by the state’s media as “Georgia’s unofficial self-proclaimed bean counter,” Bachtel started his career at UGA in 1980 as an extension rural sociologist in the community development department of the then College of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service, now known as UGA Extension. In 1992, he joined the department of housing and consumer economics in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences as a professor.
Over the course of his career, he surveyed Christmas tree farmers, farm-equipment thieves, cancer patients, teenage mothers and specialty mushroom botanists, according to an article that appeared in the Augusta Chronicle in 2006.
“There are many Georgians for whom the Georgia County Guide was their most vital link to research and analysis from the University of Georgia, and Doug Bachtel was the heart and soul of that and so many other public service endeavors,” said Libby Morris, interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “He was tireless in his outreach to the state.”
On June 30, Bachtel retired after his many years of helping Georgians and was awarded the status of emeritus professor by former UGA President Michael F. Adams in recognition of his honorable and distinguished service to the university.
“Doug Bachtel made sense of demographics and was forthright in helping decision-makers understand what was going on in Georgia,” said Linda Fox, dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “He did what a good state extension specialist is supposed to do—serve the public.”
During his career, Bachtel published numerous journal articles, proceedings, presentations and outreach reports. As editor of the Georgia County Guide, he compiled data about the state’s agriculture, education, economics, crime, demographics, health and vital statistics. With the Georgia Municipal Guide and the Georgia Housing Guide, he gathered comprehensive statistical information about all 159 of the state’s counties and its 534 municipalities. Decision-makers in government, business, health and education use the guides on a daily basis to improve the quality of life throughout Georgia.
Bachtel also edited two academic publications, the Journal of the Community Development Society and the Southern Journal of Rural Sociology, and was a contributing editor of the Georgia Journal magazine.
Frequently cited in newspapers, magazines and other news outlets, Bachtel secured nearly $3 million in grant funding and more than $200,000 in contract research during his time at UGA.
Bachtel earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology from Colorado State University in 1968 and 1971, respectively. He completed his doctorate in rural sociology at Ohio State University in 1978 and, before coming to UGA, was on the faculty of Auburn University’s agricultural economics and rural sociology department.
He is survived by his wife, Bonnie, and stepson, Travis Truchoweski, and was preceded in death by his daughter, April.
In lieu of flowers, Bachtel’s family asks that contributions in his name be made to Nuci’s Space in Athens.