From The Hartwell Sun - April 28, 2005 ( return )
Local garden club member to focus on youth, environment during two-year term

Jean Peacock, Contributing writer

Dollie T. Harper of Hartwell was installed as the 42nd president of the Garden Club of Georgia Inc. at the Georgia State Convention at Callaway Gardens April 21 in Pine Mountain.

Harper said the job marks the achievement of a goal she set two years ago. "It's an honor to lead the 14,000 member organization. I am here to serve the membership," she said.

Prior to the installation luncheon, the past-presidents of the Garden Club of Georgia honored Harper at a reception.

Hartwell's Madora Garden Club, of which Harper is a member, presented her with an arm bouquet of red roses, a Swarovski crystal blue butterfly and a special copy of the club's 50-year history written by Jean Peacock.

After a luncheon honoring the state, Deep South and national life members, officers were installed for 2005-2007.

In her acceptance speech. Harper recognized the 29 members of the Madora Garden Club and members of the Pine Tree, Hartwell and Nancy Hart garden clubs, who attended in her honor.

"I was overwhelmed by the support from the Hartwell people," she said.

More than 75 people from the Azalea District, to which the Hartwell clubs belong, also were there, she said.

Harper announced that a daffodil was named for outgoing president Jaydee Ager.

During the 2005-2007 administration, Harper plans to focus on several programs: Georgia's YOUTH with FLOW ~ Create a Ripple; Mountains to the Sea Phase II; Pull and Save a Tab for Ronald McDonald Houses; and Landscaping for Fun.

Harper said she plans to reach out to youth through these programs. "We will do what we can to improve our environment," she said.

She challenged all garden club members to accept changes as the club continues its mission of "Beautification, Conservation, and Education."

As president, Harper will travel throughout Georgia. "It's a mighty big job, but it will get done," she said.

Born in Michigan, Dollie T. Harper moved to Georgia at a young age. Her father was a rural minister and her mother was a nurse.

She was raised in areas of both the beautiful Northeast Georgia Mountains and Georgia's Piedmont.

Harper lives on Lake Hartwell in Hartwell, and is married to a local Hartwell attorney, Eugene (Gene) W. Harper Jr. She is the mother of one daughter, Sonya H. Carr, and the grandmother of Lindsey, age 13, and Taylor, age 11.

She attended Forrest College in Anderson, S.C., and worked in the banking industry for 15 years. She took early retirement to assist her husband in his law practice as office manager, a position she maintains today.

Harper also gained leadership experience in other volunteer organizations. She assisted with chartering the Lavonia Pilot Club in 1970. She held numerous positions with Credit Women International (now known as Credit Professionals) beginning in 1970 and was state president from 1977-1978.

She also has worked in various capacities with her local church.

A longtime gardening enthusiast, Harper joined the Madora Garden Club in 1985. She was club president in 1989-1991, and her inspiration and enthusiasm contributed to the success of the club.

She served on the Hartwell United Garden Club Council as president and in other positions. She served in many capacities on the Azalea District Board, including Azalea district director from 1995-1997. She was membership chairman, parliamentarian chairman and held various offices on the State Board of The Garden Club of Georgia Inc., including awards chairman, scholarship chairman, membership development chairman, GUIDE editor, fourth vice-president, second vice-president, and first vice-president, and has served on the long range planning committee and the board of trustees for Garden Club of Georgia's state headquarters.

Harper was honored with the first Dollie T. Harper Award for outstanding member, initiated by the Madora Garden Club.

She is a state life member, a Deep South region life member, a National Garden Club life member and a patron of scholarship.

Harper is a a landscape design and gardening studies consultant. She has completed the basic design "At Home With Flowers" course and will soon begin the process of becoming an environmental consultant.

She helped establish a new membership development program with the help of Sara Lanier, and for establishing and maintaining the Garden Club of Georgia Web site and state board list server with the input and assistance of outgoing president, Jaydee Ager, and developing each of the seven district list servers.

Edith Gaines contributed to this story.