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Remembering Dr. Willie G. Todd

POSTED: December 12, 2013 11:00 p.m.
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Dr. Willie Grier Todd, 1926 Miss Effingham County. This photo was taken during her first year at the University of Georgia.

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Dr. Willie Grier (Todd) was born to Annis Bertha Cartin and Thomas Cicero Grier on Jan. 10, 1909. She was known as the Matriarch of Guyton for her civic contributions.


Accomplishments of Dr. Todd include: founding the Guyton Tour of Homes and the Guyton Historical Society, and she was one of the founding charter members of the Historical Effingham Society in May 1996.


Dr. Willie Todd wrote the alma mater for Effingham County High School.


She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina. She taught in the Effingham County Schools and at Tift College in Forsyth, and retired as professor of history at Georgia Southern College (Georgia Southern University).


A charter member of Pine Street Baptist Church in Guyton, Dr. Todd was an active Christian educator and mentor. She lived her faith by serving, caring and giving to those in need.


An avid gardener, she kept the grounds of her beloved home immaculately. The home known as “Beulah” was the Blackshear-Cartin-Grier home. Built in 1884 by a Savannah businessman, James E. Blackshear, the home is typical Victorian gingerbread style. Furnishings in the home include many authentic antiques.


Guyton was established as a haven for wealthy Savannah people who built summer or vacation homes to escape heat and disease including yellow fever epidemics. Some businessmen commuted by train to and from Savannah daily. The affluent residents built lavish Victorian homes, many of which still survive. Dr. Todd’s tireless research and immense historical knowledge led to the placement of the city of Guyton on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. She persevered to establish a Historical District in Guyton.


In 1988, Dr. Willie Todd received the prestigious John Adam Treutlen Award as an outstanding Georgian and asset to Guyton and Effingham County.


Dr. Todd’s home was the focal point of the Christmas Guyton Tour of Homes for 27 years.


Passing away on Feb. 28, 2006, her footprints are still here. After her death, the Guyton Methodist Church acquired her property adjacent to their church. Although the tour of homes no longer continues, Guyton still hosts the Old Fashioned Christmas Festival and annual Christmas parade in early December. Dr. Todd’s song, the alma mater of Effingham County, can be heard each year at graduation. This petite, gracious southern lady left her mark on Guyton and our county. She goes down in the annals of the history of Effingham County as a remarkable woman of exceptional historical knowledge, leadership, ability, generosity and hospitality.


This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: hesexleyherald@aol.com.

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