Updated with funeral information . . .
ATHENS — An Athens icon has died.
Craig Hertwig, better known as “Sky” around Athens, passed away at about 6 p.m. Wednesday at St. Mary’s Hospital, family members confirmed. He was 60.
Ed Hertwig said his brother died of heart failure. Sky was actually admitted to the hospital on Tuesday evening and “died in less than 24 hours.” his brother said.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Lord & Stephens (West) of Athens, 1211 Jimmie Daniel Road, Bogart, GA 30622. There will be there service Saturday at 1 p.m.
Hertwig, a Macon native, at 6-foot-8 was unusually tall for a football player, hence his nickname. He starred for the Bulldogs as an offensive tackle from 1972-74 and earned All-America honors from The Associated Press as a senior. He was drafted in the third round by the Detroit Lions in 1975 and played three seasons in the NFL before retiring after getting traded to the Buffalo Bills in 1978.
Hertwig returned to Athens and forged a career as a nightclub owner. Bars he owned and operated were some of the most popular in Athens, including The Fifth Quarter, Sky’s Place and The Odyssey, which today is known as The Nowhere Bar. When not downtown running one of his establishments, Hertwig could often be seen jogging on Milledge Avenue and in Five Points. UGA legend Dan Magill referred to him as the “Giant Jogger.” He was also a staunch supporter of Georgia men’s basketball and was always present at games in the first seat next to the tunnel in Section J at Stegeman Coliseum.
“It’s sad,” said Jeff Dantzler, a longtime Athens radio personality and writer. “He was very well liked by a lot of folks and a lot of people are very sad. He was an Athens icon. Loved the Dogs.”
Here’s some remarks from Vince Dooley, Hertwig’s coach at Georgia and a longtime friend:
“Certainly we’re all saddened by the sudden loss of Craig, who was a great football player, a great fan and a great supporter of all the athletic programs at Georgia. Our deepest sympathy goes to his family and friends.
“Obviously, Craig was nicknamed ‘Sky’ because of his height. During his playing days, he was really tall for a lineman. I actually had gone to see another player on another high school team when I saw this big ol’ guy jumping around. He was kind of under the radar but that eventually led to us signing Craig.
“Because of his size, he was not ready to play as a freshman and we redshirted him,” Dooley said. “One of the things I remember most about Craig is how big a fan he was during that season he redshirted. He loved to get in the stands with the students and cheer for the team. I don’t know if I ever had a player who was as big of a fan as Craig. He matured and became a great player an All-American played professionally and came back to Athens. He always continued his support of Georgia football and all Georgia sports in that social way. He was so well known all over Athens and will be missed.”