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Leila Case: Gatewood’s Flower Shop continues to bloom at 75

Congratulations to Gatewood’s Flower Shop on its 75th anniversary. The family-owned retail floral business has provided the citizens of Americus and beyond with efficient service and beautiful blooms  since its founding.

Last Saturday evening near dusky dark, Leon Holloway, current owner/manager, was honored at a beautiful reception at The Carnegie on South Jackson Street. He, along with the shop’s staff, welcomed the large number of friends from here and beyond who enjoyed a bountiful candlelight buffet, music, and wine set against a backdrop of gleaming silver and beautiful floral arrangements everywhere you looked.

The flower shop was founded by Holloway’s great-aunt, Mrs. Furlow T. Gatewood Jr. “Miss” Flora, in 1944, and was located at Flowood, the spacious Gatewood family property on the Macon Road. She ran the business out of the family’s 19th century barn/carriage house.

When her oldest son, Furlow Gatewood III, returned home after serving in the U.S. Air Force during World War II (I’ve heard he was accompanied by his dog Trigger as flight mascot), he joined his mother to help operate the flower shop.

A few years later, Gatewood left the floral business to go to New York City to join the firm of John Roselli as an antique dealer, where he lived and worked for years. Before leaving Americus, the barn/carriage house was renovated and converted into a unique home that Gatewood named The Barn and where he stayed on his many visits home. After he retired The Barn became his permanent home.

“Miss” Flora eventually moved the florist business to a shop in the 200 block of West Lamar Street where The Vogue was once located. She continued to operate the flower shop until she sold it to Bettie Gatewood Duke, Leon Holloway’s maternal aunt, in 1961. Leon began working there part-time in 1969. He says he began his job of delivering flowers to customers the same day he started classes as a freshman at Georgia Southwestern College. Meanwhile, the shop moved again to a larger space at 221 W. Lamar St., and Leon became even more involved in the business.

Leon’s business expanded in 1975, when he and his cousin, Jane Kelly, opened Cousins Catering at The Carnegie building. He remembers the first wedding/reception they catered was for Americus bride Barbara Osborne. Gatewood’s Flowers moved there in 1991, but moved again in 2000, when he purchased the building at 304 W. Lamar St, the current location.

Congratulations to Leon Holloway, and his talented and efficient staff and best wishes for another successful 75 years of providing us with bright and beautiful flowers.

Among those I spotted at the reception were Dee Hardin, Charlie Crisp of Moultrie, his daughter Jenny Crisp of Leesburg, Bill and Ann Harris, Herschel and Pam Smith, Ricky and Jane Arnold, Joe and Jarrett Hooks, Mary and Dan Torbert, George and Shea Torbert, Rebecca McNeill, and daughter, Lynn Anderson of Toccoa, and daughter-in-law, Sandra McNeill of Americus, Burton and Elaine Thomas, John and Lydia Ann Fowler, John and Rachel Shealy, Karen and Greg Austin, Glynn and Amy Holloway, Donnie Price, Terry and Bobbi Duncan, Mary Marshall, Charles and Becky Pryor and their children; Ann and George Peagler, Lou Chase,  Frances Rawlins, Brad and Mary Lafevres, Steve and Jeannie Stanfield, Reba and Sam Hunter Jr., Ed and JoAnn Pope, Carson and Marylyn Walker, Allene and Sparky Reeves, Jim and Carleen Peace, Hope Henderson, Betty Lee Scott, Meg Scott, Joey Dunn, Cameron Cummings, Louis and Sumner Resnick of Leesburg.

Elsewhere, Rebecca McNeill’s country home in the New Era community was the site for an old fashioned “southern” luncheon last Saturday given in honor of Kaye McNeill, February bride of John McNeill. Kaye grew up in Macon County but had made her home in Ocilla for a number of years. Among the guests were Lynn Anderson, Sandra McNeill, Mary Collier, Janet Kinnebrew, Ann Hart of Albany, Martha Souther of Douglas, Casey McNeill Kilgore of Tifton, Claire Clayton of Ocilla, Kat Clayton of Hahira, Mary Rush, and Margie Strange. Welcome to Americus, Kaye McNeill.

And home from Athens and the recent Garden Club of Georgia board of directors meeting are Faye Frazier, Drenda Sternenberg, Janice Cliett, and Willie Maxwell. Several of these women are competing in the Standard Flower Show at the Georgia National Fair in Perry this weekend.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.