Leila Case: A poignant tribute, reunion celebrations

Published 11:04 am Saturday, May 25, 2019

Americus was jumping with a multitude of significant events attracting scores of visitors last Friday and Saturday, but perhaps the most poignant paid homage to the memory of the late Ginny Sanderlin Whaley who died in February at the age of 57 after losing her tough fight with cancer.

The tribute, the Ginny Sanderlin Whaley Organ Restoration Fund, came in the form of a fundraiser to purchase a new organ for First United Methodist Church (FUMC) of Americus in Ginny’s memory.

Ginger Horne Starlin, among the benefit organizers, explained it was financially better to buy a new church organ than restore the present pipe organ, as the restoration fee was too costly.

So, Ginger along with other friends of Ginny’s and the approval of Dr. Jerry Roe, pastor, Ginny’s husband Rick Whaley and her parents Charles and Vangie Sanderlin, organized the benefit fundraiser in only four weeks, setting a goal of $68,000, the price of a new organ.

“It was a tremendous success — we surpassed our goal by several thousand dollars due to the generosity of members of First United Methodist Church and so many others in the community and beyond,” said Ginger. “Everything from food and services to silent and live auction items was donated. We are very grateful and appreciative.”

Perhaps the most exciting auction item was a week’s vacation at either a condo in Italy on the Mediterranean coast or a condo in an historic village in Egypt on the Red Sea contributed by Sylvia Roland and her mother Lela Pumphrey. The auction package also included a cashier’s check in the amount of $5,500 given by the Citizens Bank of Americus board of directors to purchase airline tickets, food, and incidentals

Other items were outstanding, too, and ranged from stays at spacious beach homes to a gun club membership, a quail hunt, a pound of chicken salad and pimento cheese monthly for a year, a low country boil for 30, and a dessert a month for a year. Everything went to the high bidders and Ginger reported the Allen organ has been ordered and will be installed in the church by late June.

Others on the Ginny Whaley dream team were Leon Holloway, Marcia Dupree, Andrea Powell, Linda Lee Purvis, Terri Joiner, Debbie Smith, Sam Morris, worship/arts director at FUMC, and Bob Slenka.

The 50th anniversary of the founding of Pi Kappa Phi, Gamma Xi chapter at Georgia Southwestern was a huge event attended by almost 300 brothers, spouses, Little Sisters, Rose Queens, and invited guests, including more than 50 from this community. Gamma Xi chapter was founded on May 17, 1969, and Sparky Reeves and Stick Miller of Americus were in the second pledge class.

Festivities for the two-day event were at the Windsor Hotel that began with a get-reacquainted reception sponsored by the GSW Foundation and Alumni Association.

Saturday evening’s program opened with a warm welcomes by Reeves, Pi Kappa Phi fraternity’s CEO Mark Timmes of North Carolina, and GSW President Neal Weaver followed by the presentation of Golden Legion Awards and a tribute to brothers who have passed away and a delicious dinner followed by dancing to the music of the River City Horns band of Columbus. Incidentally, five of the original band members who performed at Pi Kap fraternity dances years ago are still in the band and here Saturday.

Also taking place last weekend was the annual reunion of Sigma Chi alumni at the Retreat at Lake Blackshear.

And the annual Rotary District 6900 Sheffield Gala and the Sheffield Leadership Society (SLS) hosted by the Americus Rotary Club drew more than 50 Rotarians and their guests from throughout the district at The Carnegie Saturday night that included a silent auction fundraiser and dinner dance to benefit the Americus Rotary’s community efforts.

The evening opened with the theme, “Leadership Inspiring the World,” and recognition of the 2019 Sheffield winners.

The silent auction raised more than $6,000 and featured a multitude of outstanding items; however, the most unique was the beautiful hand-carved violin donated by Jim Herron, M.D.

Americus Rotarians and their wives attending were Marion and Virginia Franklin, Bill and Ellen Hanson, Hank and Kimberly Hart, Julie and Al Higgins, Jalena Hoston, Edward Jackson, Kathryn and Brent Moore, Kenny and Teresa Phillips, Cindy Pryor, Dr. Lou and Candy Riccardi, Reda Rowell, Susan and Mike Ruckman, Rene and Angela Smith, Don and Sybil Smith, Jimmy and Morgan Whaley.

And huge congratulations and three cheers to Anne Barrett, my daughter-in-law, who retired after 30 years of teaching in the Sumter County School system as well as the Crisp County system. She celebrated the milestone at a surprise supper hosted by her husband Mark Barrett, and sons Beau Barrett of Macon and John Barrett of Leslie at Daphne Lodge at Lake Blackshear.


Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.