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    Dick Pettys, 66; covered Georgia politics for Associated Press

    ATLANTA — From Georgia’s last segregationist governor to the first Republican to hold the office since Reconstruction, Dick Pettys covered Georgia politics for the Associated Press for more than three decades. His reputation for fair and accurate reporting won him the respect of the state’s most prominent politicians.

    Governor Lester Maddox, when Mr. Pettys began working for the AP at the state Capitol in 1970, called him ‘‘the long-haired devil’’ but kept in touch with Mr. Pettys by phone long after he left office. To the State House press corps, Mr. Pettys became known as ‘‘the dean,’’ who over 35 years had a knack for mentoring newcomers.

    Mr. Pettys, 66, died Monday at his north Georgia home outside Clarkesville of a heart attack. Mr. Pettys retired in 2005.