Newsbank Archive
March 30, 2015
Obituaries (6-19 edition)
Jun 19, 2013 | 0 0 comments | 1026 1026 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Diane Durham Stephenson

Diane was born to Mary and Jacob Durham on July 20, 1930 in Birmingham, Ala. and died on Saturday, June 8, 2013 at her home in Dahlonega. She was married to Robert Stephenson in 1954 and lived in Atlanta. She moved to Lumpkin County in the late 1980s, desiring to live in a more peaceful area.

After attending Stephens College, she earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Alabama with a major in Anthropology. Her early work years focused on research in health care delivery, carrying out federal contracts throughout the U.S. Spending a number of years in teaching and research at the University of Georgia, she led the women’s rights movement on campus during the 60s. This led to early termination of her contract! Thereafter she began a life long career as a general contractor in home construction, the only woman in that profession in the Atlanta area at that time.

Diane helped start many human service organizations including the Atlanta Gay Center, Kidney Foundation of Georgia, NOA, Community Helping Place, and the Lumpkin Literacy Coalition. She was a founding member of the Georgia Mountains Unitarian Universalist Church in Dahlonega, having been a member of that church all of her adult life.

Survivors include her life partner of 16 years, Betty Greene; her children Fred Stephenson, Donna Stephenson and partner Bill Shepherd, and Randall Stephenson; her step-children Jennifer Greene, Chris and Amy Greene; and grandchildren Lindsey and Ella Greene; and her brother John Durham.

A Celebration of Life honoring Diane and her many friends will be held at the Dahlonega Funeral Home Saturday, June 29 at 4 p.m. Visitation will take place one hour prior to the service, .with a reception following at the Georgia UU Mountains Church in Dahlonega.

In lieu of flowers, Diane requests that donations be made in her name to the Georgia Unitarian Universalist Church in Dahlonega.


Donald Ray Gooch

Retired Major U.S. Army, Donald Ray Gooch, age 74, of Dahlonega, died June 12, 2013.

Don was born in Brawley, California to the late Gordon and Martha Justus Gooch. He was a helicopter pilot in the United States Army in which he was Commander five times; once with the missile site in Olathe, Kan., twice in Germany, and twice in Vietnam. He retired from his military duties to Dahlonega with his wife of 56 years. Mr. Gooch was a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Lumpkin County. He is also preceded in death by many brothers and sisters.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Jones Gooch; son and daughter-in-law, Don and Killian Gooch, Austin, Texas; daughter, Deborah McGrath, Oakwood, Ga.; daughters and sons-in-law, Brenda and Brian McCrary, Carrollton, Ga., and Kimberly and James Hickman, Germany. Six grandchildren and a number of other relatives also survive.

Funeral services for Don were held Friday, June 14, 2013 at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Lumpkin County.

Rev. Michael Rogers officiated.

Interment followed in the Jones Chapel Cemetery with full military honors.

In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to the Wounded Warrior Project at

Online condolences may be made at

Banister Funeral Home of Dahlonega was in charge of the arrangements.


Donna Grainger

Mrs. Donna Grainger, age 55, of Flowery Branch, Georgia, passed away Sunday, June 9, 2013.

Funeral services were held June 13, 2013 at Memorial Park South Funeral Home Chapel. The Reverend Bill Compton officiated.

Donna was born on December 11, 1957 in Gainesville, Georgia. She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Flowery Branch. She worked at Crossroads Deli in Gainesville as a cashier. She enjoyed creating and viewing art, tending to her bountiful garden and was a friend to all. She was preceded in death by her father, William Larry McNeal; and husband, Daniel Cleveland Grainger; sister, Lisa McNeal.

Donna is survived by her mother, Rebecca (Barber) McNeal of Flowery Branch; son and daughter-in-law, Andrew and Judith Grainger of Dahlonega; daughter and son-in-law, Samantha and Paul DeBoer of Flowery Branch; close companion, Mike Denier of Flowery Branch; grandchildren, Hayden Grainger, Audrey Grainger and Delia Anne DeBoer.

In lieu of flowers the family has requested donations be made to Good News at Noon, 810 Pine Street, Gainesville, Ga. 30501 or Set Free Cleveland, P.O. Box 1419 Dahlonega, Ga. 30533.

Memorial Park South Funeral Home 4121 Falcon Parkway Flowery Branch, Ga. 770-967-5555 was in charge of arrangements. Or for those who wish online condolences at

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Dog park plan gives Council pause
by Matt Aiken
Mar 25, 2015 | 545 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dahlonega dog owners may have to look elsewhere for an off-the-leash oasis after canine park proponents were met with a lukewarm reception from city officials Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve got three dogs and I’ve got a cat somewhere in the neighborhood,” said city council member Michael Clemons. “But that piece of property cost us $600,000. ... And we’re dying for parking.”

This wasn’t the answer Sandy Steele and the members of the GOLD Dog Park group were hoping for as the non-profit group offered to transform a long-vacant grassy area next to the old kindergarten building on North Park Street into an official dog park.

“We see this as a wonderful opportunity for the city to provide another wonderful amenity to the people who live here as well as visitors,” she said from the podium. “It’s been proven to improve the mental, physical and social health of people that visit dog parks.”

Steele said GOLD Dog Park members would fix up the property, maintain it and help provide another attraction for the downtown area.

“[That means] more visitors coming into the town for the purpose of visiting the dog park and spending money,” she said. “More money is good for the city, it’s good for the businesses and the merchants.”

However, council members weren’t as enthusiastic about the idea.

‘I just don’t think that with the liability and the cost of the land it would be a good fit for Dahlonega,” said Mayor Gary McCullough.

Council member Sam Norton said once the city committed to a dog park, they’d feel inclined to keep it there permanently.

“To be perfectly candid with you,” said Norton, “once the dog park did start using that property it could be difficult to use the property for something else later on.”

Clemons said that the stretch of land is much too important to future development to turn into a permanent park.

“I’m just thinking we can’t go in that direction simply because we don’t know what we’re going to do because we need parking,” he said. “And I think we need parking more than we need a dog park.”

Clemons added that, if pressed, he would vote to turn the area into a downtown parking expanse.

“If somebody asked me today how to vote, I would pave that whole entire thing,” he said.

It was a comment that Steele took exception to.

“I think there would be a lot of people in the community distressed to hear about a green-space becoming parking,” she said.

“I guarantee the people that we’re getting heat from about parking will outweigh the people worrying about green-space,” responded Clemons.

Local resident Noah Steinberg agreed with Steele’s sentiment and added an impromptu plea to keep the green-space intact towards the end of the meeting.

“It would just be a real shame if that had to get paved over,” he said. “And I know parking is a priority for all the businesses downtown but to me that just seems the same as cutting a corner out of Hancock Park and saying ‘We need more parking let’s put down some concrete.’”

Meanwhile, Clemons pointed GOLD Dog Park members in a familiar direction.

“I just do not think that’s the right place for a dog park. I think we should go and talk to the county. They’ve got tons of land that we don’t have,” he said.

“I invite you to do that,” said Steele to laughs from the assembly.

The GOLD group has spent several years presenting differing park proposals to the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners without receiving approval.

Still, Steele concluded her time at the podium with the promise that park proponents would not be deterred.

“We are one of the few civilized communities not to have dog parks,” she said. “And my motto is ‘dog parks are for people.”
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