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Mary Angela King Whyte: A Remembrance

by Julie Edwards, Typesetter and Designer, Druid Hills News and
Jennifer Richardson, Managing Editor, Druid Hills News

On September 17, 2013, Mary Angela Whyte, editor of the Druid Hills News for over 20 years, suffered a debilitating stroke.  Her family honored Mary Angela’s wishes that no extreme measures or machines be used to prolong her life if there was no hope of meaningful recovery.  Mary Angela died on September 28 at the age of 77.

Mary Angela taught English classes at DeVry University to students struggling to master grammar and composition skills as they embarked on their quest for higher education. It was always her goal to teach her students the proper use of the English language so they might effectively represent and express themselves in college and the workplace.  She succeeded, being told by many “you taught me to write.”

Mary Angela grew up in Druid Hills in a half-timbered Tudor Revival house on Springdale Road.  Though her travels took her far away, she always considered Druid Hills home. When she returned to Atlanta, she bought a house on Emory Drive and her children attended Druid Hills High.  Her keen interest in neighborhood and quality of life issues led her to become active in the Druid Hills Civic Association, which led to her assuming the role of editor of the Druid Hills News.

The hours she spent working on the Druid Hills News were a labor of love.  She took the paper from a four page “leaflet” to a large size 18-24 page paper. Jennie Richardson and Mary Angela would brainstorm about what needed to be in the next paper. Jennie was then sent out to beat the bushes for articles (or write them) and also to take photos and compose captions. The two would spend time calling and emailing contributors, community leaders, and advertisers to gather an interesting, balanced, and timely collection of articles, photos, and advertisements for the paper.  Once the material was in, Mary Angela would then proofread, edit, and fact-check every piece to make sure it was accurate, unbiased, concise, and ready for publication  Then, there were the constant space  constraints because each page of the paper had to be paid for by advertisements. Jennie and Mary Angela would agonize over what to leave in, cut out, or put on hold for another issue.   Many times, Mary Angela would round out the newsletter with well-researched articles and interviews of her own.

Work on the Druid Hills News was strictly voluntary, as Mary Angela was never paid for her professional skills.  She volunteered her time and expertise because she wanted to give back to a place that she considered one of the last civilized places in which to live in Atlanta.  What she “gave back” was a  quality newspaper packed with useful knowledge, the latest news on neighborhood issues, and  fun biographies of Druid Hills luminaries, garden hints, book reviews from local clubs, and both private and public school news.  Her strong editing skills and her natural intuition created a paper neatly woven together as individual strings forming a tapestry.

Mary Angela did not lead a charmed life.  Her four year-old son died of leukemia.  She underwent a painful divorce. She brought her 52 year-old son to Atlanta so that she could care for him during his battle with pancreatic cancer.  She was with him when he died on May 15 of this year.  And one more time, she picked up the pieces of her life and moved on with courage and without complaint.   She had just resumed some social activity when she was felled by the stroke on September 17.  Through it all, she relied on a deep religious faith that included regular attendance at mass at Saint Thomas Moor Church in Decatur.

Three more things need to be said about Mary Angela.  The first is she was quintessentially Irish.  A plaque with Cead Mi’le Failte (a thousand welcomes in Gaelic) was on her door and just about everything inside was “Irish.”   The second was that she became not just friend; not just editor, not just mentor; but mother figure to her two underlings at the paper, Jennie and Julie.  Mary Angela loved to talk and was a great storyteller.  Jennie and Julie were privileged to hear the many stories that never made it into the paper. Finally, though she was short in stature, (slightly under five feet tall) Mary Angela was a powerhouse to contend with in any verbal discourse. She had the voice, wit, and persuasion of a person six feet tall.  When she spoke, others listened.  She was the champion tree of any forest—towering over things yet accessible to all.

Mary Angela was a strong, faithful, witty, and gracious Southern lady. Her grace, professionalism, and friendly demeanor were apparent in every word she spoke. You may not have known her personally, but through the Druid Hills News and her involvement with the Druid Hills Tour of Homes and Gardens, the life of every Druid Hills resident has been touched by the gifts, talents, and time that Mary Angela Whyte selflessly shared with the neighborhood she loved. The neighborhood and the paper will go on—but there will always be a hole in the heart of us after the loss of Mary Angela.

3 Comments
  1. She will be missed by those of us on the Tour of Homes & Gardens.

    10/02/2013
  2. Mary Angela is emblematic of a generation of Druid Hills neighbors who love this community, worked positively to maintain and improve it, and when necessary, fought for it with their time, their money, and their intellect. She set an example for us all and she will be deeply missed.

    10/01/2013
  3. Bruce #

    All: Mary Angela’s obituary.

    Mary Angela King Whyte, 77, passed away at sunrise on Saturday, September 28, 2013, at Emory Hospital. Born and raised in Atlanta, she graduated from Sacred Heart High School and then Emory University. She also earned her MBA from Georgia State University. Mary Angela spent much of her career as a teacher, most recently retiring from DeVry University as a Senior Professor after 22 years.

    Mary Angela, a Master Gardener, loved working in her yard. She was also a well-loved member of St. Thomas More Parish, where she volunteered her time and love. Devoted to her community, Mary Angela was an active volunteer on many fronts and served as editor of The Druid Hills News and as a longtime member of the Druid Hills Civic Association. She recently received the association’s first ever Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Mary Angela was preceded in death by her mother, Mary Frances Higgins; her father, Frank Austin King; and two sons, Gregory and Alec.
    She is survived by her son, Christopher Whyte; daughter, Megan Whyte Soule, son-in-law Matthew Soule and grandson Gregory Soule; brother, Denny King and sister-in-law Colleen; brother, Mike King and sister-in-law Joann King; and sister, Sheila King Morris and brother-in-law Keith Morris, as well as many beloved nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews.

    Mary Angela’s intelligence, sharp wit, love of wine and all things Irish will be missed by those who knew her. The refrain of “Friends with You,” a song she sang with John Denver, may serve as comfort to all who love and miss her: “Friends I will remember you, think of you, pray for you, And when another day is through I’ll still be friends with you.”

    Donations in honor of Mary Angela may be made to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Highway 212 SW, Conyers, GA 30094-4044, https://give.trappist.net.

    09/30/2013

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