Juanelle (Wassie) Kesler Vickery, 91, of Hartwell, passed away at St. Mary's Hospice House in Athens on July 31, 2020. She was born on December 12, 1928, in Franklin County, Ga., to the late Ovis (Hemphill) Kesler and Doc Herschel Kesler.
She graduated from Hartwell High School at the age of 16 and attended Georgia College for Women in Milledgeville. She was married to the late Maurice Vickery.
She is survived by a daughter, Laurie Vickery Childs and her husband Terry; son, Terry Kesler Vickery and his wife Peggy; four grandchildren: Leigh Childs Phillips and husband Chad, Brad Childs, Lieutenant Colonel John Vickery and wife Jennifer, Lieutenant Ty Vickery and wife Courtney; seven great-grandchildren: Katie Phillips, MaCaylee and Camryn Childs, Aubrey and Parker Vickery, and Violet and Declan Vickery; two sisters-in-law: Mary Kesler and Ann Kesler Robinson.
She was preceded in death by her parents, spouse, brothers Ed Kesler and Gary Kesler, sisters, Dot (Al) Snyder and Ann (Bud) Cheek.
Wassie is best known for the many years she was employed by The Hartwell Sun, most of which she served as Associate Editor and Editor.
In 1959 Wassie began her career at the Hartwell Sun; selling office supplies and writing news briefs. It was soon thereafter that then owner/publisher Buddy Hayden recognized her true writing skills and Wassie's gift for telling the stories and accomplishments of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. In 1964, she began work on one of her first feature articles. So impressed by the work, Hayden submitted the feature for award consideration. The story won the National Award for Feature Writing. Since that time, features would become a mainstay of The Sun, and Wassie would go on to win numerous Georgia Press Association Awards for her writing and General Excellence. Her desire then, and always has been to tell the stories and accomplishments of others.
Over the years, through it all, recognizing many needs in the community, Wassie championed for numerous causes; Whether demanding immediate attention to dangerous intersections, planning and organizing the "Lou Cacchoili" day for a doctor that had given so much to the community, or lobbying for the state to place appropriate signage to honor Louie Morris, the person responsible for having our lake named "Lake Hartwell", or countless other projects, she saw each through to the very end.
Because of her truth and fairness in reporting for the Board of Education as well as an avid supporter of education, she was nominated and won the State School Bell Award, not once, but twice.
The Hartwell Rotary Club honored Wassie with the Four Way Test Award, Jean Harris Award, Paul Harris Fellow and also made her an Honorary Charter Member for her contributions to the community and the club. She was also honored with the Women in History Award by the DAR.
Wassie served on the Salvation Army board and the Northeast Georgia advisory board of Emmanuel College.
At Hartwell First Baptist Church, she served her church in many capacities, including being elected as one of the first lady deacons of the church. She started the library at First Baptist, now officially named "Wassie's Library".
She was also honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award as well as Grand Marshal of the Christmas parade from the Hart County Chamber of Commerce.
Wassie never boasted about any of her achievements, it has always been about praising and lifting up so many in the community. Whether sharing stories of hard times and those in need, or ones accomplishments on their best day, she was always writing about our people in Hart County.
Because of the current conditions concerning the health and well-being of our community, the family will not be having a formal visitation. They ask that everyone keep them in their thoughts and prayers in the coming days and weeks.
The family will have a private graveside service to inter her ashes at Northview Cemetery beside her husband Maurice. A public service celebrating Wassie's life will be held at a later date when everyone can come together to be with the family.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the First Baptist Church of Hartwell, 81 E. Howell St., Hartwell, GA 30643.
The Strickland Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Hartwell is in charge of all arrangements. Online condolences can be sent to the family at www.stricklandfh.com.