Margaret Anne Swindle Shaw, 79
Margaret Anne Swindle Shaw was born April 19, 1943, to the late Emory Swindle and Margaret Swindle Darsey. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she pursued a career in education. She married Loyd Shaw on June 12, 1964, and they recently celebrated 58 years of marriage When her first grandchild was born she forever became “MA” to not only her family, but everyone that knew her.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:” (1 Peter 4:10) describes MA in all facets of her life. She used her gifts to serve her church, her career, her community and her family.
She was a lifelong member of the Lakeland United Methodist Church. After her health hindered her ability to attend the church, she and her Sunday Funday partner, Lisa Plair, would watch online. She rated the choir each Sunday. She began playing the piano at the age of 12 and continued for over 60 years. The first hymn she played in church was “Wonderful Words of Life”. She played for community events, cantatas, children ‘s programs, weddings, funerals and anywhere else that needed a pianist.. She considered this a part of her service. When her husband and the Reverend John B Carroll decided to organize Camp Tygart camp meeting, she not only played in the earlier days but assisted him for 25 years selecting the music each night on the ride to the camp meeting. They were a great pair for this job and the district churches loved the music! When her children were younger she was also a Sunday School teacher. She was always willing to do whatever it took. She instilled in her children the importance of going to church and serving the Lord. She was also known for her card ministry. If you were in need of a card to cheer you up or encourage you, she was the sender. No matter the occasion or situation, she never missed a moment to send you a card with words of encouragement or a thank you note for your act of kindness.
Professionally Margaret Anne excelled beyond measure! She started out as a high school math teacher and soon became the curriculum director where she turned the world around! As curriculum director she sought grants that brought thousands of dollars into Lanier County Schools to enhance the curriculum and other school programs. She also planned staff development activities which brought in top professionals in academic areas to provide assistance in areas of identified needs in each school. MA worked tirelessly in these two areas to make a difference – sometimes working until the early morning hours. On one occasion the police went by to see who was in the office at such a late hour! When Loyd was traveling for his job she figured out how to forward the home phone to her work phone number so that he didn’t realize she was not home.
Her many hours of work paid off! One grant produced Georgia’s first 4 year old program. It was many years before Pre-K was introduced. The word spread about the success of the program. Margaret Anne was invited to share at the National Reading Conference in Washington, DC by Bill Bennett, the first former United States Secretary of Education. Soon there was talk about 4 year old education not only in Georgia but all over the nation! As the result of another conference in Ohio, Margaret Anne enlisted the services of a consultant from Kentucky and the system began a several year venture which utiltilized a multi-faceted committee made up of community people, school personnel, and outside experts to plan and implement a school plan which would include new and improved ideas. Margaret Anne wrote grants and secured funds for Right to Read, ESEA, Computer Education, hiring paraprofessionals and other needed support personnel. These grants provided funding and personnel beyond those which were funded by the state.
In planning staff development, MA was careful to base the plan on the needs of teachers and other school personnel. She brought experts in each area which included the authors of textbooks, top professionals in each area of need, and motivational speakers. These people were from all parts of the United States. They actually loved coming to Lanier County because MA would put them up in the Jones Hotel and they would wake up to a home cooked South Georgia breakfast and then for supper they were treated to a meal at Ray’s Pond.
People who worked for the school system have shared with her family and friends that no one ever thought of MA as the “boss”. She was always “the helper”, “the listener”, “the peacemaker” and “the provider”. She wanted to do whatever it took to help you be the best educator you could be. Often when she would visit one of the schools, she would have yellow sticky notes all over her clothes with requests for things that teachers needed. Of course don’t forget the famous yellow legal pad.
Margaret Anne and her husband, Loyd, were approached in the 1970s by John and Helen Strickland to partner with them and another couple, Bob and Eleanor Ragsdale from Tifton to begin hosting the Flatlander’s Arts and Craft Show to be held annually on Labor Day weekend. This show continued for over 40 years and brought recognition to Lakeland. The first show was held in a metal building on the Valdosta Highway owned by MA’s family. Ironically this location is now the site of the Threatte Center. When approached by the Oak Lawn Foundation committee to relocate the old LCHS auditorium, she and her sister, Lynn, didn’t hesitate to provide the land and later added “The Veranda” in honor of their mother. She was very instrumental in what became known as “The Big Move”.
Her family was a source of pride and she was their rock and inspiration. After the years of being a Lanier County Bulldog fan (which she still remained), she became a Cook High Hornet, a Gordon College Highlander, a Southern Polytechnic State University Hornet, and later a Valwood Valiant. She attended baseball games, softball games, basketball games, and tennis tournaments following her grandchildren. One game at the NAIA World Series she stayed in the bathroom the whole game because it was such a nail biter. Luckily her team won. She became MA to all the teammates of her grandchildren. In the last few years, she and her caregivers made numerous trips to Burton-Brooks and Southern Grace Farms to get ice cream and anywhere else they could go to get out of the house. She loved to go.
In addition to her parents and her son, Len Boy, she was preceded in death by her stepfather, John Darsey; her in-laws Slaton and Doris Shaw, her brother-in-laws, Charles and Jay Shaw, Fred Anderson; and her granddaughter, Ramana Ray Thomas.
Along with her husband, she is survived by her children, Allison and Raymond Ray, Adel, and Kevin and Gayla Shaw, Valdosta, grandchildren, Justin and Mary Gray Ray, Sara and Ty Sumner, Smith, Swin, Bella and Campbell Shaw, Travis Thomas, Lamar and Keri Ray, and Scott and Melanie Ray. Great-grandchildren include Scarlett Anne and Morrison Ray; Noa, Thompson and Truett Sumner, Nichole Harrison, Chris Harris, Savannah Ray (Josh Kenbeck) and Maggie Ray. She was also great, great grandmother to Zoey, Mason and Raylee. Additionally she is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Lynn and Dice Roberts; sister-in-laws:
Emily Anderson, Zellna Shaw, and Libby Shaw. Nieces and nephews: Leland, Jill, Ashton, Emory and Evan Roberts, Ashley Roberts, Jeff, Mixson, Stacey and Justin Anderson, Vickie, Marcus, and Brittany Hughes, Pam Shaw, Joey, Amber, Daniel, and Melinda Fowler, Sheri Shaw, Jason, Katy, Ann Harvey, and Slaton Shaw, Sam, Christa, Jenna and Brady Shaw. Along with special family members, Jimmy, Lisa, Lauren and Lee Plair, and the duo that kept her healthy, entertained and on the roads for the last 3 years, R & R, Rose Williams and Rachel Visconti and special friend, Betty Kimbrough.
On August 6, 2022, after a courageous battle with Parkinsons, she was met at the open gate and the Master said, “Come on in MA – You have been a good and faithful servant. Your work on earth is done.” And on her robe there was a little yellow sticky note that said “Thank you God for your wonderful grace and mercy!”
A celebration of life is was 2 pm on Saturday, August 13, at Lakeland United Methodist Church, 80 West Main Street, Lakeland. The family received friends in the social hall immediately following the service until 5:30. Interment will be at a later date in the family plot at Unity United Methodist Church cemetery.
Flowers are welcomed, but in true Margaret Anne fashion, a memorial gift may be made to the Margaret Anne Shaw scholarship fund for seniors at Lanier County High School established in her honor that is given by the Youth Impact Center, 85 W. Church St., Lakeland, GA 31635, Lakeland United Methodist Church, 80 West Main Street, Lakeland, Georgia 31635, or to a charity or church of your choice.
Messages of sympathy may be expressed online at www.musicfuneralservices.com. The compassionate and caring staff of Music Funeral Services of Lakeland is caring for MA’s family.