Freddie G. Dudley: Dec. 29, 2018
Published 12:14 pm Wednesday, January 2, 2019
AMERICUS — Leila Freddie Gammage Dudley (aka “Freddie Jean”, “Momma”, “Mimi”, and “Miss Freddie”) passed away on Dec. 29, 2018, at her home, surrounded by family.
Freddie was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and was the daughter of Nell Arnold Gammage and Hiller Monroe Gammage, of Moultrie, Georgia. She is survived by her husband of 65 years, James Crawford Dudley Jr. of Americus; her children: James Gatewood Dudley, Leila Diane Dudley and William (Bill) Hiller Dudley and his wife, Paige Satterfield Dudley; her grandchildren: Leila Grimball
Schaefer (Dylan Thomas Schaefer), Elizabeth Callaway Grimball, Carley Elizabeth
Dudley, Ansleigh Saxon Dudley, and Pamela Macon Dudley, and her great-grandson Henry Callaway Schaefer, and his brother Thomas Grey Schaefer to be born in May 2019. Hiller Monroe Gammage Jr., Freddie’s brother, predeceased her in 2017.
Mrs. Dudley attended Shorter College and graduated with a bachelor of science
degree in math. She taught school for several years while her husband, Jim,
attended medical school in Augusta, Georgia, and then later in Coral Gables,
Florida, during Jim’s surgical residency. In her forties, she studied accounting and
enjoyed preparing tax returns each year.
Freddie was “something else” and had a wonderful sense of humor. She was very much true to herself and did things her own way. Freddie enjoyed gardening, home design, decorating, reading novels (she always had an ongoing list of books to pick up each week at the public library) and gourmet cooking.
She loved to shop (although she returned much of what she bought). On a shopping trip to Atlanta with her daughter, Leila, an accident occurred on the way into the city and her Lincoln Continental flipped over and was completely totaled. This did not stop Freddie! She stood on the side of the road in her mink coat, asked the policeman to get the popcorn popper out of the trunk so she could
return it to Rich’s, and Leila’s college friend came to pick them up so they could enjoy the rest of the day shopping at Lenox Square and Phipps.
Freddie’s attention to details always made her creations beautiful. Each year, residents of Americus would enjoy driving by 211 South Lee Street to see “Freddie’s” 12-foot Christmas Tree, all glorious and sparkling through the glass door. The whole process of decorating the tree took about three days. Jim would first hang all of the lights (of course, with Freddie’s direction), and then Freddie, Jim, and Nanell (Freddie’s mother) would strategically place each of the ornaments, bows and garland in just the right places. The gifts were wrapped beautifully with layers of gold ribbon with perfectly coordinated gift tags, and each package was artfully arranged beneath the Christmas tree. One Christmas, her future son-in-law placed his standard green and red packages beneath the
front of the tree. Later, he could no longer find his gifts. Lo and behold, Miss Freddie had hidden them around the back of the tree out of sight!
Freddie never wanted to spend more than one extra second performing any task; therefore, she was the master of efficiency. For example, she tied a sunflower on top of her car antenna so that she could quickly spot her car in any parking lot. If Freddie could make a phone call instead of a car trip to complete a task, she would surely do it, and she utilized the microwave masterfully to minimize time spent in the kitchen.
Although Freddie was beautiful, very feminine (we don’t think she ever broke a sweat) and liked to dress up, she gave new meaning to the term “steel magnolia”! She could have a root canal without novocaine! In 2000, she survived metastatic colon cancer (when the oncologist came to her hospital room intending to tell her the very grim prognosis, she quickly told him she was not interested in anything he had to say and to leave her hospital room as she had a friend (Lanier Oxford) waiting outside that she would much rather talk to!) She also survived lung cancer (she loved her cigarettes!, even getting in a tussle with airport personnel when she lit one up on the tarmac in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, on a family skiing trip). When she went to get chemo, the nurses would call her “Miss Hollywood”, as she would show up in a wide brim hat, a colorful scarf and sunglasses!
Freddie enjoyed keeping up with the latest fashion trends and researching the best skin creams and make up. She had naturally curly hair, and she was always trying to find the perfect remedy to keep her hair from getting kinky. (We think that was one of the reasons she didn’t exercise, even though she was voted “most athletic” at summer camp)! She would try every new straightener available, even including Ultra-Sheen! Once when having the opportunity to visit Costa Rica, she was asked if she was going to join the family on the trip and she replied, “No, I am not interested in going there. The humid weather is not good for my hair!” On one occasion, she remarked, “You know, I think I would have had a totally different personality if I hadn’t been born with curly hair!”
When her granddaughter, Elizabeth, was diagnosed with cancer, and later relapsed and was paralyzed, Mimi spent many hours with Lei, her sister, providing a source of stability for Lei while Elizabeth was in the hospital. She offered moral support to her daughter, Leila, and provided laughter to Elizabeth with her dry sense of humor.
During her early childhood, Carley remembers spending time with Mimi while Mimi would sit on her stool in the kitchen enjoying her favorite activity, smoking! Carley was fascinated and kept on bugging Mimi to let her smoke. Becoming exasperated, Mimi just gave Carley a cigarette and told her to go smoke it because she didn’t want to hear any more about it. This did the trick and Carley
no longer wanted to smoke with Mimi!
Ansleigh and Macon enjoyed going over to Mimi’s house to watch Mimi put on her makeup, play Parcheesi (how did Mimi always win?) and put on fake nails purchased from the drug store. Mimi LOVED sweets, most particularly chocolate. She would hide her chocolate, as it was a “specialty” item, and she didn’t like to share her specialty items. The girls would try their best to find Mimi’s newest hiding place.
Ansleigh, Carley and Macon also enjoyed running errands with Mimi; however, they were most embarrassed on the rare occasion when it would start raining unexpectedly while they were in the grocery store, and Mimi would take the food from the grocery bag so she could place the bag over her head to keep her hair from getting wet on the way back to the car.
Freddie loved her husband unconditionally and called him her “teddy bear”. She was most thankful for all the time she had with him after he retired from his medical career! Jim was devoted to taking care of “Freddie Jean” after she suffered a stroke in 2012, and really made her feel nurtured. He served as her medical advocate, cook and best friend. And she would often say, “He takes such
good care of me!”. Even though she had many limitations, they were both able to find humor during the difficult times and to still do some fun things.
Momma had a very strong faith in Christ and felt very much at peace when she communed with Him. She found her faith to be very comforting during the difficult times and the heartbreaking struggles she encountered.
Freddie leaves behind a wonderful legacy to her family and her friends. One can hardly think of Freddie without remembering one’s own entertaining or funny times they shared with her. Her beauty, kindness, bossiness, loyalty, humor, frankness, and creativity will long be remembered by those who knew and loved her.
Freddie hated funerals and when making her end of life wishes known, she stated, “I hate funerals, and I certainly am not going to ask that people attend mine!”. In lieu of a funeral, friends are invited to join in celebrating Freddie’s life between noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 5, at her home.
Her family wishes to thank her devoted caregivers: Lori Holt, Joy Hernandez, and Alicia Ellenburg who have assisted her since her stroke; her housekeeper for 20 years, Mattie Mae Banks, and her many friends, who brought much joy and support to Freddie throughout her life.
In lieu of flowers, it is Freddie’s wish that you make a donation to the charity of your choice.