A fixture in the early days of Columbus College, Mary Jo Whitley died Tuesday at her home in Social Circle, Ga.
Whitley was the widow of Thomas Y. Whitley, the university's first president and the man instrumental in building the foundation on which Columbus State University sits today.
The Whitleys were a team, said retired President Frank Brown, one of only four people to lead the school in its 51 years of existence.
“I would maintain that what the Whitleys did was, of course build a college, but they also built a community,” Brown said. “They built a relationship between the college and the community that stands to this day at a level that has not been reached by any other community that I know of.”
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Arrangements are being handled by Meadows Funeral Home in Monroe, Ga. Visitation will be held from 6-9 p.m. Thursday and the funeral will be at 1 p.m. Friday.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the Dr. Thomas Y. Whitley Scholarship Endowment, Columbus State University.
It is a sad day for Columbus State, President Tim Mescon said.
“I was honored to have spent some time with her recently, and I can assure you that Mary Jo Whitley was as fine a lady as there ever was," Mescon said. "She made an immediate mark on me personally, and I’m sure I will continue to discover ways that she left her mark on this university."
Whitley led the Faculty Wives Club as well as numerous other organizations in Columbus and on campus, according to a news release from the university. She received an honorary degree from CSU in 1975.