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8-10-10 Augusta (Gus) Verner turns 90 A Big Person A Big Party!

To know Gus Verner is to love her!

AVOC

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August 8, 2010

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Augusta (Gus) Verner turns 90 – A Big Person – A Big Party!

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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Gus Verner and granddaughter, Rebecca Verner Holcomb 8-7-10

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Mrs. Augusta Verner, Gus, was feted to a 90th birthday celebration by family and friends at Watkinsville First United Methodist Church on Saturday, August 7, 2010.    As expected, it was a huge turnout.   Gus Verner has made large footprints in Oconee County for decades.

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Gus Verner – One Cool Lady- before 90th Birthday Bash!

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Part of Crowd at Gus’ 90th Birthday Bash

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Crowd at Gus’ 90th Birthday Bash

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Mrs. Verner is a retired teacher having taught at Carrithers School in the mid 50’s, Bishop and Watkinsville.   She worked with Special Ed students before the Special Ed program existed.   Mrs. Verner raised four children: Bryan Verner (now deceased), Lemuel Verner, Ellen Verner Thurmond and Rebecca Verner Baxter.   She is grandmother and great-grand to many more children.   For years, Mrs. Verner was a foster mother to numerous needy children in Oconee County.

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Mrs. Verner’s Class- Watkinsville Elementary 1961-2

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Mrs. Verner has been a strong advocate for children.   She lobbied the County in the late 80’s to have Action move to Oconee using the old school at Bogart.    For years, it provided pre-school learning for needy and special children at Bogart.

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Mrs. Verner has overcome some serious health issues.   She underwent brain surgery years ago.   Mrs. Verner greets everyone with a hug.   To many she is known as the “Hug Lady”.   She became a walker, walking several miles a day in and around Watkinsville.   She and I were “waving buddies” as she walked out to the Methodist Church area. I would be walking in the area early in the day.   Gus Verner’s walking and hugs became legendary.   The loss of her left leg to cancer a few years back stopped the walking but not the going!

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Gus greeting family & friends at beginning of Bash

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Betty Dawson & Gus in ‘act of hugging’!

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Ms Gus has long been a faithful member of Watkinsville First Methodist Church.    She attends the early service and then goes with Lemuel to her home church at Hoschton, GA.   Gus attends many community and church functions.   Ms. Gus is widely known and folks came from afar to wish her Happy Birthday.

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Friends & relatives came from far and wide

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Gus Verner at “Joe Ann Mitchell Day” at St Mary’s Hospital –May 2003

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Augusta Verner, retired teacher, regularly attends OCHS Annual Banquet – this year- June 2010

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During the birthday celebration on Saturday, a pause in receiving line and socializing allowed Josh Darnell to serenade Ms Verner and the crowd with two songs.   Josh played his guitar using the arm that was severely injured in combat in Afghanistan on January 08, 2009, from an IED that killed some of his fellow soldiers.   Josh went through months of recuperation and rehab.   He told the birthday crowd that hardly a week went by that he did not receive cards from Ms. Gus.   He sang the song with verses that “you are nobody until someone loves you”.   It was very poignant for the crowd who loves both of these special people.

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A highlight was Josh Darnell serenading Ms. Verner & attendees

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Gus Verner & Melissa Darnell- wife of Josh

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Ms. Gus sold land to the City of Watkinsville in the mid 80s for the Watkinsville Wastewater Treatment Plant.    I think at times she has had second thoughts about that.   However, had it not been for Gus and her community spirit, we would have been delayed for many years in getting Publix, Kroger, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart and much more commercial activity in the county.   Oconee County owes a lot to Augusta Verner.

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Ms Verner taught some of my siblings and many others in Oconee County.    She was virtually an assistant principal at Oconee Elementary School at Butler’s Crossing in the 70’s & 80’s where she retired.    My daughter, Jennifer, attended that school and became one of Ms. Verner’s friends.  Ms. Verner has enthusiastically kept up with Jennifer’s teaching career for years. Ms. Verner has been a family friend and has attended our ‘Dawson Senior Christmas Dinner’ at our home for over 20 years.

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Gus Verner singing Christmas Carols at Dawson Senior Dinner –Dec 2005

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Gus and Aunt Becky at Dawson Senior Dinner- Dec 2008

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To know Gus Verner is to love her.


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