LeadingAge Georgia Spotlights Twenty Inspiring Elders

On November 18, LeadingAge Georgia honored 79-year old Beverly "Guitar" Watkins with LeadingAge Georgia’s Positive Aging Icon Award at its annual event at the Atlanta History Center. In addition, 19 other Georgia seniors were recognized for their positive outlook on aging and for making a difference in the community and the world at large.

Ms. Watkins is the seventh recipient of LeadingAge Georgia’s Positive Aging Icon Award. Past recipients include: former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell, former Atlanta news anchor Monica Kauffman Pearson, Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, Bishop Dr. Barbara L. King, Ambassador Andrew Young and 1968 US Olympian Dr. Mel Pender.

More than 240 guests attended the event that also raised approximately $34,000 to provide year-round educational opportunities through the Georgia Institute on Aging for paraprofessionals, professionals, care partners and family caregivers who support older adults. Ginny Helms, President/CEO and Jacquelyn Thornton, Senior Vice President of LeadingAge Georgia, celebrated all twenty honorees by noting: "We are inspired by their example of positive aging. Age doesn’t have to slow you down or keep you from doing what you love. At any time in our life, you can give back and provide joy to others."

LeadingAge members are all mission-based organizations who serve older adults and they all focus on well-being. Several of the Profiles of Positive Aging honorees commented on how much the LeadingAge member communities where they live support them in pursuing their passions. One member commented that in the life plan community where he resides there are over 500 individuals there to engage in activities with at any time. A Profiles of Positive Aging winner awardee who moved to Georgia to be near family partnered with the staff of the life plan community to bring Life Long Learning to his new home. The Profiles of Positive Aging award winners brought awareness to the value of living in mission-based communities that focus on well-being and foster passions. "Our organization strives to dispel the negative stereotypes of aging and promote a culture of positivity and inclusion," said Thornton.

Together with Ms. Watkins, the following inspiring seniors were honored:

Raymond Pattillo, Sr. Asbury Harris Epworth Towers Rosa Smith, JenCare Neighborhood Medical Centers Frances Thrasher, A. G. Rhodes Health & Rehab Victorine Solomon, Providence Manor Senior Center Dorothy Heuslein, St. George Village Frances Goodson, Wesley Woods of Newnan Sondra Rhoades Johnson, AARP GA The Rev. Joyce Myers-Brown, Wesley Woods Towers Lou Geerlings (posthumously), Carlyle Place Athleen Yauger, Cathedral Towers
Lynda Washington, Decatur Christian Towers Jerry Waugh, Baptist Towers Marion White, Lutheran Towers Marguerite Wilkins, Alice Williams Towers Mary Baker Anderson-Hill, Presbyterian Village Bradley Currey, Jr., Canterbury Court Creed W. Pannell, Jr., LeadingAge Georgia Michael Halpern, Lenbrook Ruby Newsome, Altrus, Inc.

For more information about the Icon Awards, please contact Jacquelyn Thornton of LeadingAge Georgia at 404-889-8536 or

LeadingAge Georgia is the statewide association for over 170 not-for-profit and other mission-driven organizations dedicated to providing quality housing, health care and community-based services for Georgia’s seniors. LeadingAge Georgia and its educational arm, the Georgia Institute on Aging, host the annual awards event to raise awareness for quality elder care and to fund year-round educational opportunities for paraprofessionals, professionals and family members who provide elder care.

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