Anne Paradise Hansford, 96, of Stephens, Georgia passed away Saturday, July 10, 2021 just one month shy of her 97th birthday. Anne was born on August 18, 1924 in Lincoln County, Georgia to Howard Hillyer Paradise and Lady Ethel Gassoway Paradise. Her family later moved to the Salem Community of Oglethorpe County, Georgia where she was raised and worked on the family farm.
Anne graduated from Meson Academy in Lexington, Georgia where her legend as a future Georgia Sports Hall of Famer and trailblazer for women’s basketball began. Thomas H. Riden, her basketball coach at Meson Academy, where she won four state championships in four undefeated seasons, recognized her as the most talented female basketball player he had ever seen and coined the nickname “Lit” for her as a description of her action on the court. This nickname stuck with her and is how she was affectionately referred by those who loved her and knew her well.
She later briefly attended the University of Georgia and Nashville Business College before playing for the Atlanta Sports Arena Blues and Chatham Blanketeers of North Carolina. It was during these years that she was recognized as the first female in Georgia to earn the distinction as an All-American basketball player. She would eventually win three national championships while playing with the Atlanta Blues and North Carolina Blanketeers and become a three-time AAU All-American, earning those titles in 1947, 1948, and 1949. Her accomplishments, experiences playing internationally, and overall determination and grit were unprecedented for a female athlete of her time and was later recognized as such when she was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
When she made the choice to end her basketball career, she returned to Oglethorpe County where she married her life long neighbor, John Franklin Hansford. They made their home in the Salem Community and raised a family of three children on their farm; Tim, Ted, and Mary Hansford. It was with the same determination, grit, and overall presence she possessed that she raised her family and worked tirelessly on the farm. Her family knew her as a loving and devoted mother and grandmother who could light up a room with her quick wit, musical talent, larger than life personality, and unmatched ability as a storyteller.
Anne is preceded in death by her beloved husband of 24 years, John Franklin Hansford, her son, Marion Tedwell “Ted” Hansford, and her daughter in law, Debbie Pitts Hansford, all of Oglethorpe County, Georgia. As the last remaining child of Howard and Ethel Paradise, she was also preceded in death by her parents and siblings as well. She is survived by two children, Tim Hansford (Ann), and Mary Hansford, and seven grandchildren: Tim’s children, John Hansford, Elizabeth Hansford Skowronski (Piotr), and Jeff Hansford (Emily), and Ted’s children, Marianne Hansford Camacho (Guillermo), Lisa Hansford, Heather Hansford, and JF Hansford (Breland). She also had 5 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews whom she loved.
Her life will be honored and remembered by the many people she met and knew throughout her accomplished lifetime, especially her family who knew her best and will forever be proud to belong to her legacy.
Services will be Monday July 12, 2021 at 6:00pm at Salem Baptist Church in Lexington, Georgia.
The family is honored to have the following men serve as pallbearers: Andy Paradise, Sam Paradise, Kevin Smith, Dr. Piotr Skowronski, Dr. John Hansford, Jeff Hansford, John Franklin Hansford, and Guillermo Camacho.
Lord & Stephens Funeral Home, EAST, Athens, is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com
Salem Baptist Church
694 Salem Church Road, Lexington GA 30648