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Cleveland restaurateur Pauline ‘Ma’ Gooch dies at age 87

Funeral services scheduled for Saturday

POSTED: April 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Pauline "Ma" Gooch was remembered Friday as a woman who worked until her legs gave out, but never lost her love for people.

Gooch, who once owned the Gateway Restaurant, more commonly known as "Ma Gooch’s," died Thursday at the age of 87.

Gooch spent most of her adult life in the restaurant business, first as the owner and operator of the Sunrise Grill in Blairsville. In 1953, she opened the Mount Yonah Cafe in Cleveland.

"I came to Cleveland with her when I was four," said her daughter, Paula Anderson of Gainesville. "The old Mount Yonah was torn down and the courthouse is now there."

In 1967, Ma Gooch purchased the Gateway Restaurant, which was located at the intersection of U.S. 129 and Ga. 75 in Cleveland. The business was popular with both local residents and tourists bound for the Georgia mountains.

Among those who have enjoyed her food is former President Jimmy Carter, who was sent helpings of her famed potato salad on more than one occasion while he was governor of Georgia.

She was known to most people as simply "Ma," according to her daughter. "Even kids would come in and would ask for Ma," Anderson said. "She’d come out with biscuit dough on her hands."

Upon a doctor’s recommendation, she sold the Gateway Restaurant 14 years ago. She continued making her popular biscuits, which were sold at a convenience store owned by another daughter, Linda McGuire of Cleveland.

Two other daughters, Judy Rochelle of Belle Harbor, N.Y., and Tammy Pruitt of Flowery Branch also survive her, along with two sisters, Audrey Tritt of Suches and Betty Moose of Sharpsburg. She had nine grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. today at the chapel of Alexander’s Gateway Chapel in Cleveland.


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