Mrs. Verdery died Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
Born Sept. 24, 1924, in Waynesboro, she was the daughter of the late James Jesse Johnston and Annie May Tyler Johnston. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband; a sister, Anne J. Herrington; and a half-brother, Jesse Eugene Johnston.
She graduated salutatorian from Waynesboro High School and salutatorian from Tift College with a major in chemistry. Following graduation she was a chemist for DuPont and was later employed as a Red Cross disaster worker.
She was married to W. Hamilton (Ham) Verdery, and in 1957 they moved to Hartwell when the family business, East Georgia Pulpwood Inc. was expanded to include Northeast Georgia and the Upper Savannah River Valley. As they surveyed their new territory, they fell in love with Hartwell, its people and its lake. They concluded that here they would make their home, raise their family and join with others to work toward the town’s progress.
They joined First Baptist Church the first Sunday after moving to Hartwell. The Verdery loyalty and dedication began here that day and never ceased. Every member of the family found places to work and to serve the church, schools and the community.
In addition to her many interests of running the home and family, Mrs. Verdery was the company’s bookkeeper. When her husband died in 1971, their four children spanned ages from 11 to 20. She not only took on the full role of both parents, but she continued to guide the business until it was sold a few years later.
Mrs. Verdery was an accomplished watercolorist, woodworker, gardener and musician, and she found ways to apply all these talents to enhance friendships she quickly accomplished in the community and her church. At First Baptist, she was Baptist Women’s director of Woman’s Missionary Union for more than 20 years, member of the sanctuary choir, Sunday school teacher in grades from beginner to the junior department, facilitator and member of the Martha Bowers Women on Mission, prayer co-chairman for the church addition, a member, past president and prayer chairman of the Evangelon Sunday School Class, and was the first woman to be elected deacon at First Baptist.
She was an avid reader, a learner, listener, leader and counselor, and she applied her knowledge and skills in the community, as well. She served for 11 years as a member of the Hartwell Housing Authority and was chairman for a number of years, four years on the Hart County Library board, membership chairman of the Hart County Historical Society, FBC coordinator and volunteer for the Hart County Clothes Closet, store volunteer for Heart Haven, member of Hart County Chapter for Habitat for Humanity, member and past president of the Nancy Hart Garden Club, member and Tamassee chairman for the John Benson Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, and Daughters of the American Colonists. She was a Master Gardener lifetime member, a Brownie Scout leader, a Boy Scout den mother, member of the Fairview Coffee Club, and a participant in the America Reads program in elementary schools.
In 1972, she earned the title of Hart County Mother-of-the-Year, and she was the recipient of the Hartwell Rotary Club Four-Way Test award.
Mrs. Verdery is survived by her children: W.H. (Wink) Verdery Jr. and his wife, Lynn Morris Verdery, of Baldwin, Bebe Verdery and her partner, Debbie Weimer, of Baltimore, Md., Tyler Verdery and his wife Rita, of Washington; and Courtney Verdery Kesler and her husband Jim, of Hartwell; one sister, Vivienne Hambrick of Newnan; 10 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
The family requests memorials to honor the memory of Mrs. Verdery be sent to the First Baptist Church Library Fund, 81 E. Howell St., Hartwell, GA, 30643; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of GA Summer Camps, P.O. Box 4343, Macon, GA 31201; or the Hart County Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 44, Hartwell, GA 30643.
Online condolences can be sent to the family at stricklandfh.com.
The Strickland Funeral Home of Hartwell is in charge of all arrangements.
The Northeast Georgian
March 8, 2013