Family, friends celebrate as Celestine Sibley inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement

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Susan Bazemore brushed away a tear Thursday as she was presented with a plaque inducting her late mother Celestine Sibley into the prestigious Georgia Women of Achievement.

Bazemore wasn’t alone.

More than 300 attendees, including Sibley’s family and friends were there to help reflect on the iconic Atlanta Constitution columnist and reporter who passed away at age 85 in 1999.

Also in the 2010 Georgia Women induction class at ceremonies held at Porter Auditorium on the campus of Wesleyan College in Macon: education advocate Mary Ann Rutherford Lipscomb (1848-1918) and State Bar of Georgia “first lady” Madrid Loyd Williams (1911-1993).

Before the tears, however, was the laughter Bazemore generated in the auditorium during a video tribute to her mother when she discussed being a frequent topic (along with her brother Jimmy and sister Mary) in Celestine’s popular Constitution column.

“It was a nightmare!,” Bazemore proclaimed. “Horrible, just horrible. You’d go to school and everyone knew all the details of your life.”

At a family-style chicken luncheon following the program, former AJC newsroom pal Kathy Trocheck reflected on the mentor she credits with making her a published author (Trocheck is better known these days to readers as the New York Times bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews).

“She would have loved to have been here to see her friends,” Trocheck told Intel. “She’d be hugging everyone’s neck and saying, ‘Well, honey!’  But she hated awards. She would probably be thinking more about the coffee stain on her one good suit and having to get her loafers resoled than the award!”

Bazemore echoed Trocheck’s take and added: “Mother would have felt she was in good company.”

Indeed, the Georgia Women of Achievement was borne out of a suggestion by former first lady Rosalynn Carter and previous inductees include Flannery O’Connor and Carson McCullers.

Trocheck is pictured at right with Sibley’s granddaughter, author Sibley Fleming in foreground and from left, Sibley’s former AJC newsroom pals Rev. Patricia Templeton (who oversaw Sibley’s funeral at the columnist’s request), Brenau University communications and publications assistant vice president David Morrison and author and Sibley’s former AJC editor Krista Reese.

Georgia Poultry Federation icon and Georgia Women board of trustees member Abit Massey spearheaded the campaign to snare Sibley the honor.

Both the veteran gold dome lobbyist and his lovely wife Kayanne, a former Miss Georgia attended the ceremonies.

These days, Kayanne tells us she’s taken up watching “Days of Our Lives” to keep up with grandson Chandler Massey who’s just been cast as Will Horton on the NBC soap (“I’m a little concerned about that Mia girl chasing after Will,” Kayanne playfully confided to us. “I suspect she’s up to no good!”)

And Celestine Sibley’s many fans who wonder what happened to her beloved Sweet Apple log cabin in Roswell can rest easy.

Bazemore tells us she and her husband still summer each year at the tree-laden modernized cabin with many of Sibley’s favorite books and artifacts from her 60-year career beautifully displayed inside.

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