Elizabeth “Lib” Willoughby: January 3, 2021

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, January 6, 2021

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Elizabeth “Lib” Willoughby, long time Americus resident, passed away peacefully on January 3, 2021. Born in Griffin, GA, in 1928, Elizabeth “Lib” Willoughby was the youngest child of the Rev. Albert and Lucy Hamilton Howard. She attended Mars Hill College then Mercer College where she met her future husband Broadus Willoughby, on her first weekend on campus. After graduation, they were married by her father at Wrens Baptist Church on October 29, 1949.  The newlyweds moved to Americus in 1950 to open a Western Auto store.


As a homemaker, Lib reared three girls while volunteering many hours in service to the Girl Scouts, the Junior Welfare League, and First Baptist Church, where she was a Sunday school teacher, Vacation Bible School leader, and president of the Women’s Missionary Union. Having a lifelong love of reading, she was an enthusiastic teacher, mentor, and promoter of Laubach Literacy International, founding a local chapter in Americus and tutoring reading for Lake Blackshear Regional Library’s adult literacy program. Her passion for literacy sent her back to school after her children were grown to earn a Master’s degree in reading from Georgia Southwestern College.  She then worked as a reading specialist at South Georgia Tech until retirement.


Lib was a founding member of Fellowship Baptist Church in 1972 when the doors of most white churches were closed to African Americans. She became the first woman deacon in that church and one of the first female Southern Baptist deacons in the state of Georgia.


In addition to reading, Lib loved to work puzzles, read, play golf and bridge, and to work on her computer or any other “gadget.”  She and Broadus travelled to over 15 foreign countries, as well as all fifty states.


She is preceded in death by her brother Albert Howard and sister Winslow Dolson and survived by her husband of 72 years, Broadus Willoughby, as well as her children Lynn Willoughby (Christopher Baxter) of Highlands, NC; Ginny Willoughby Bass and Kiel Bass of Clyde, NC; and Windee Willoughby and John Pittman of Franklin, NC; two grandchildren, Zeke Bass (Megan) and Shannon Bass Steele (wife of Andy Steele), and six great grandchildren—Jack, Colton, and Zoe Bass; and Carter, Caitlin, and Selah Steele.


A service to celebrate her life will occur at a future date. Memorials may be made in her name to Fellowship Baptist Church, Americus.