(Mary) Conoly Cullum Hester, 86, former Athens journalist, community activist, wife, and mother passed away on Sunday, October 24, 2021 surrounded by her family.
Conoly was a reporter at the Athens Banner-Herald for over 16 years, writing articles ranging from human interest features to explorations of historic preservation and investigations of environmental, health, and welfare issues. She also served as a reporter at the Athens Observer and as editor of Georgia Journal. She edited Michael Thurmond’s A Story Untold, Black Men and Women in Athens History, and with her husband Albert Hester co-authored Athens Georgia: Celebrating 200 Years at the Millennium.
Born November 30, 1934 in Dallas, Texas, to James Albert Cullum and Mary Conoly Prendergast, Conoly lived in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Texas and Madison, Wisconsin before moving to Athens in 1971. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and began her journalistic career at the Austin American-Statesman. She later held positions at the San Antonio Express-News and the Dallas Times Herald, where, in addition to serving as a general assignments reporter, Women’s Club Editor and Home Furnishings Editor, she was pressed into service to translate calls from Spanish-speaking journalists in the first days after the Kennedy assassination.
Athens has been home to Conoly for over 50 years. Her community service included, but wasn’t limited to, serving on the Advantage Behavioral Health Systems Community Service Board, bringing A.A. meetings to incarcerated women, serving on the stewardship committee of Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, and advocating for the Five Points neighborhood. In the 1980s, she traveled with Jubilee Partners to Central America to write about their work providing artificial limbs to children who had been maimed by landmines that remained after various wars. She was a member of Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church and a loyal friend of Bill W. since 1988.
She is survived by her children, Katherine Leigh Hester (Mark Carubia) of Madrid, Spain and Albert Cullum Hester (Therese Hurley) of Columbia, SC; her grandchildren Ava and Paloma Carubia; nieces Bonnie Cullum, Blanquita Sullivan, Katie Cullum, and Lene Connor; nephews Chris Cullum and James Cullum; and many beloved cousins.
The family wishes to thank the ICU staff of Piedmont Hospital and staff of Kindred Hospice for their compassionate care.
An outdoor memorial service will be held on Monday, November 22 at 1:00 p.m. at Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, 3195 Barnett Shoals Rd, Athens, GA 30605. Masks will be required throughout. A private burial will be held at Oconee Hill Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Jubilee Partners, PO Box 68, Comer, GA 30629 or Habitat for Humanity, https://www.habitat.org/.
Lord and Stephens, East is in charge of arrangements.
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