Joanne Owens

Joanne Owens, 78, passed away on Tuesday, July 25, at her home in Red Bud after a long, courageous battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Joanne was born April 16, 1939, in Gadsden, Ala., to the late William Walton Morris and Mabel Louise Fancher Morris. She graduated from Gadsden High School where she was voted “Most Friendly”, a title which describes her approach to all those she ever met. Joanne graduated from Rhodes College (formerly Southwestern at Memphis) with a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Christian Education. She was a member of Kappa Delta sorority.

She met the love of her life, Calhoun native L.P. Owens, who brought her to Gordon County where she whole-heartedly embraced life in the country. Joanne loved the beauty of the family farm in Red Bud, which she experienced as a gift from God in the natural world.

Joanne served as the Director of Christian Education for several churches in her career including, Whitehaven Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., First Presbyterian Church of Dalton, and finally at First United Methodist Church in Calhoun, where she was an active member for more than 50 years. A keen biblical scholar, she enjoyed teaching Sunday school and developing dramatic plays based on Bible stories. Joanne began an adult Sunday school class at Calhoun First UMC which now bears her name.

In addition to teaching, she was a gifted public speaker, noted author and columnist. She authored “The Official Sunday School Teacher’s Handbook,” which is used by Sunday school teachers of many faiths. For more than 15 years, Joanne also wrote a featured column, entitled “Along the Way” appearing in Hoard’s Dairyman, a nationally distributed farm magazine.

In 1989, Joanne became the tourism and economic development coordinator for Calhoun-Gordon Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority. Joanne actively pursued the economic development and growth of her beloved community. She was an unabashed promoter of Calhoun and Gordon County. Joanne believed in the her community, its people and its civic organizations and she believed in the value of the Arts, both as essential to the cultural life of the community and as a necessary and integral part of its economic development.

Joanne’s love for the Arts and historical preservation were the inspiration for the construction and development of the Harris Arts Center. From her initial vision of restoring the Rooker Hotel in downtown Calhoun, to the fundraising campaign that ultimately led to its creation, she helped transform the old building into a vibrant resource for this community. She continued to actively support and direct the growth of the Arts Center and its mission, writing grants to fund its many programs and continuing to raise money for the Arts Center and its important activities, one of which was creation of the Roland Hayes Museum.

She was instrumental in raising awareness of Hayes, the acclaimed singer from Curryville, Ga., including the renaming of a local roadway in Hayes’ honor and encouraging the U.S. Postal Service to consider issuing a commemorative stamp bearing the singer’s likeness.

In 2004, Joanne was named Patron of the Year by the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries. She was honored with a gala at the Arts Center that recognized her contributions to the organization and its mission. From that event, an endowment was established that continues Joanne’s vision for the center and the community.

Other civic contributions included her membership in the Calhoun Women’s Club, her involvement in establishing the David Day Care at Calhoun First UMC, and her appointment by Gov. Roy Barnes to the State Consumer Advisory Board.

She was preceded in death by her son, Paul Owens. She is survived by her loving husband, L. P. Owens of Calhoun; two daughters, Julie Owens Leggett and her husband, John, of Calhoun, and Anna Owens Dunston and her husband, Chad, of Dallas, Texas; sister Marilyn Barber of Gadsden, Ala., and six grandchildren, Kate Leggett, Lucy Leggett and Caroline Leggett, and Fields Dunston, Owen Dunston and Greer Dunston.

A celebration of Joanne’s life will be held at the Calhoun First United Methodist Church on Saturday, June 29 at 11 a.m. with Rev. Ed Archer of Calhoun and Rev. Victor Floyd of San Francisco, Calif. and formerly of Plainville, officiating. Pallbearers serving will be Jim Lay, Kyle Smith, Mac Tilley, John Leggett, Chad Dunston and Owen Dunston.

The family will receive friends on Friday, July 28 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Thomas Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Calhoun First United Methodist Church/L.P. Owens Scholarship Fund in memory of Joanne Owens at 205 East Line Street, Calhoun GA 30701, or the Harris Arts Center Endowment Fund, 212 South Wall Street, Calhoun GA 30701.

You may leave the Owens family online contributions at

Thomas Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements for Joanne Owens of Calhoun.

Lydia Whittle

Mrs. Lydia Collins Whittle, 71 of Adairsville, died Thursday, July 20, 2017 at her home. She was born in Dunlap, Tenn. on June 11, 1946, daughter of the late Clintons and Geneva Lewis Collins.

Lydia was a Registered Nurse, and had been employed with Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital, and as a hospice nurse. She spent most of her life caring for others.

Survivors include her husband, James Whittle; her daughters and sons-in-law, Beverly and Jeff Baxter, Sheree and Dwayne Harvey, Carrie and Wayne Dunn, and Kimberly Jones; and nine grandchildren.

A Memorial Service to honor the life of Mrs. Lydia Collins Whittle will be held Sunday, July 30 at 3 p.m. from Sunny Hill Baptist Church, 1007 Wayside Road, Rome, GA 30161, with Rev. Jack Swann officiating.

The family requests flowers are omitted, and memorial donations in Lydia’s name are given to the charity of your choice.

Condolences may be left at Arrangements are under the care and direction of Max Brannon and Sons Funeral Home of Calhoun.