Judith “Judy” Cavender Willingham Smith, age 80, died peacefully at her home in Barnesville, Feb. 27, 2023.
She was born in Savannah, Dec. 23, 1942, and raised in Claxton. She graduated from Claxton High School, where she was a majorette and honors student. During that time, she also held several beauty titles.
Judy attended and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1964, where she was also an honors student, a member of Phi Mu sorority, a majorette, and the sweetheart of the Signa Nu fraternity.
Judy was a DAWG fan all her life! She always listened to radio broadcasts by Larry Munson and later Scott Howard, while watching the games on a muted TV.
While raising her three sons in Vinings, she was very active in their educational and extracurricular activities, including, but not limited to, attending numerous out-of-town sporting events.
After her children were grown, Judy returned to school and received two graduate degrees. The first was a Master of Science degree from Georgia State University. One of the proudest moments of her life was receiving her Master of Medical Science with Honors from Emory University. She later worked as a physician’s assistant in the cardiology practice of Dr. Arthur Merrill in Atlanta.
Judy spent many years living in the Vinings neighborhood of Atlanta, and the last 26 years in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and Barnesville. She served as president of the Junior League Sustainers Club of Ponte Vedra Beach and was president of the Azalea Garden Club of Barnesville.
She was preceded in death by her first husband, T. Irvin Willingham, Jr.; her parents, Henley and Beatrice Cavender; brothers, Norman and Ralph Cavender; as well as her Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Daisy, Gracie, Belle, and Holly.
She is survived by her husband, W. Douglas Smith; son, Tom Willingham, and his wife, of Macon; son, Jim Willingham, and his significant other, Hannah, and son, Bob Willingham, and his wife, Alexis; and four grandchildren, Tommy, Charlie, Ella, and Henley Willingham. In addition, she is survived by her sisters-in-law, Anna Kilburn (Galen), Harriette Cavender, and Audrey Smith; many nieces and nephews; and her beloved Australian Shepherd, Bailey.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 18, at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church, Zebulon Street, in Barnesville, with a reception to follow at the Barnesville Women’s Clubhouse, Stafford Avenue, in Barnesville.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift in Judy’s memory to Eternal Hope Hospice and Palliative Care, Griffin, First Baptist Church, or First Methodist Church, Barnesville.
You may sign the online guest book and share your own special thoughts with Mrs. Smith’s family by visiting the Coggins Funeral Home website at cogginsfuneralhome.com. Coggins Funeral Home in Thomaston had the privilege of being entrusted with arrangements.
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