Friends of Dr. Kathryn Simmons Lovett shared fond memories Tuesday of the woman who graciously sold her childhood home place in the name of progress.
Lovett once lived on property that is now a commercial hub at the corner of Northside Drive East and Veterans Memorial Parkway. She died Sunday at East Georgia Regional Medical Center. She was 97.
While Lovett never solicited the sale of her family property, she worked with the city of Statesboro and developers in selling the land. However, she had the stately home in which she grew up moved several miles away to Akins Pond Road, where she lived for several years, said Wallace Wright, Lovett’s longtime attorney and friend.
After his retirement from practicing law, Wright visited Lovett, who asked him how long he had been her attorney.
“I told her I was retired and now was just her friend, not her lawyer,” he said. “She told me, ‘If you weren’t my friend you would never have been my lawyer.’”
Lovett was a native of Metter, but lived most of her adult life in Statesboro. She attended Georgia Southern College and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in home economics.
After working for
the Farm Security Administration as a home economist, she then attended Emory University School of Medicine, where she was in the school's first class to which women were admitted.
“She was a pioneer,” Wright said.
After her graduation from Emory School of Medicine, she served her internship in New Orleans at the U.S. Marine Hospital before returning to Metter to practice with her father, Dr. W.E. Simmons.
Lovett later studied at the Medical College of Georgia as a resident in psychiatry. She and her husband, Dr. Lindsay Franklin Lovett, then moved to Statesboro, where he practiced general medicine and she practiced psychiatry, supervising the organization of numerous mental health clinics in an eight-county area, working at Georgia Southern University’s counseling center and teaching psychology at the university.
The Rev. Dr. William Perry of Statesboro First Baptist Church recalled the longtime church member as being “very personable and very pleasant.”
The gracious and humble lady was “a completely well-rounded person,” said Statesboro attorney Rachel Edwards, who served
as Lovett’s lawyer after Wright’s retirement. “She had a lot of stories to tell” and knew a great deal about local history, she said.
“She was always on top of her game, a very sweet and intelligent lady,” Edwards said. “She was modest and one of the clients I most enjoyed working with.”
Edwards remembers the day when Lovett’s home was moved to its current location – an event that caught the attention of many area citizens.
“She grew up in that house, and that is where she wanted to stay,” she said.
Lovett was active in local organizations. She was a member of the Savannah Girl Scout Council, the Archibald Bulloch Chapter of National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, the Adam Brinson I Colonial Dames of the Seventeenth Century and the Daughters of the American Colonists.
As a member of the First Baptist Church, she was also a member of the Dorcas Sunday School Class and enjoyed membership in the Hoe and Hope Garden Club.
Wright recalled a conversation with the late Hal Averitt when he was Statesboro’s mayor.
“He described her as a good citizen,” he said. “She contributed greatly to the development of Statesboro.”
Younger citizens and newcomers may not remember the graceful home that once stood at the corner of Northside Drive East and Veterans Memorial Parkway, where KFC, Wal-Mart and other businesses now operate. In selling the property, Lovett was very cooperative with developers and city officials, he said.
“She never had any resentment” about the progress,” Wright said. She “cared about people and did a lot for the community people didn’t know about.”
Lovett also contributed greatly to Ogeechee Area Hospice, he said.
Lovett Road near the Statesboro Mall was named for her family.
Lovett was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Lindsay Franklin Lovett; her father, Dr. W.E. Simmons; and her mother, "Miss Maude" Simmons; and her sisters, Josephine Smith and Lillian Bell.
She is survived by three daughters and three sons-in-law, Kathryn Veech and William Veech of Houston, Texas, Dr. Cathy Lovett and Dr. James Allan of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Dr. Karen Lovett and Larry Anderson of Albany, as well as granddaughters Kathryn and Maude Veech, Lindsay Autrey and Ellen Herrington.
Visitation for Lovett will be held from 5-7 p.m. today at Hodges-Moore Funeral Home in Statesboro. The funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Thursday in the chapel of Hodges-Moore Funeral Home with Dr. H. William Perry and Elder Jack Anderson officiating. Burial will be in Lake Cemetery in Metter.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, remembrances be made to the Statesboro First Baptist Church, 108 N. Main St., Statesboro, GA 30458; or the charity of your choice.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.