Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - 34

Hometown HERO

By Jackie Kennedy

City historian Juanita
Hughes brings past to life

I

SARAH HILL

To read Hughes'
story on Dean's
Store in Woodstock,
see page 39 of the
March 2006 issue of
Georgia Magazine
at bit.ly/gmg0306.

34

Georgia Magazine

34_Hometown_Hero_0720.indd 34

n fall 2018, Juanita Hughes was presented the keys to the city of Woodstock, and her birthday was declared a local holiday. She is prominently
featured on the city's downtown mural.
It's all a fitting tribute for the octogenarian who helped establish the
local visitors center and serves as Woodstock's official historian.
The Colorado native grew up in Dalton and moved with her husband,
Homer Hughes Jr., to Woodstock in 1965. Through the years, she became
one of the town's most enthusiastic cheerleaders.
"I found my calling in 1979 when I became the circulation clerk at the
Woodstock Public Library," she says. "It was like going to heaven without
dying to get there."
During her 20-year career with the library, Hughes says she became
interested "in the city's history and its history-makers" and started writing a
column for the Cherokee Tribune.
"I often write about Woodstock's history, and I love to tell about specific people, current heroes and those great characters in our past," she says.
She and like-minded citizens organized the Woodstock Centennial
Commission to prepare for the city's 1997 centennial, which featured a
yearlong celebration and the publication of a history book, cookbook and
coloring book. The commission eventually morphed into Preservation
Woodstock, which continues to preserve and promote the city's heritage.
After retiring from the library, Hughes teamed up with the city of
Woodstock and Alice Dean Felton to reopen Felton's family business,
Dean's Store in downtown Woodstock, as a local visitors center. When the
Woodstock Visitors Center/Dean's Store opened in 2001, Hughes was its
only paid employee. For 15 years, she taught youngsters about their
hometown.
"Third graders walked from school to Dean's Store to hear about the
city's history, see artifacts and experience how life used to be in Woodstock,"
says Hughes. Semi-retired since 2015, she continues to volunteer at the
visitors center and share the city's history.
"Every spot on this earth has a history, but until someone tells it, it is in
hibernation," Hughes says. "Knowledge breeds appreciation."
The hometown hero never sought the spotlight.
"I'm always embarrassed when people recognize me on the mural,"
she says. "There are so many unsung heroes. I've been sung already but
appreciate one more verse."
Jackie Kennedy is a freelance writer living in LaGrange.
Do you know a hometown hero like Juanita Hughes? See page 33 for
information on submitting a nomination.

July 2020

6/10/20 11:12 AM


http://www.bit.ly/gmg0306

Georgia Magazine - July 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - July 2020

Contents
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - 4
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - 5
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - 6
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - 7
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - 8
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - 9
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - 10
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Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - 34
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - July 2020 - Cover4
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