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Local artist Rosemary Wood Dodd dies at 87
Rosemary Dodd listens to speakers Wednesday during a dedication ceremony for a memorial plaque of the 75th anniversary of the 1936 tornado on the square in Gainesville. Dodd is a survivor of the 1936 tornado. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Renowned local artist Rosemary Wood Dodd died March 29, 2023, following months of declining health. She was 87.

Known for using bold colors in her paintings as well as her trademark multi-colored hair, Dodd was celebrated for her creativity, a lover of all things Gainesville, a master storyteller and had a wicked sense of humor, according to her obituary. 

“She approached life as if it was her own canvas,” said Doug Carter while introducing her as Rotary Club’s Woman of the Year in 2005. “Her ability and willingness to paint outside the lines with her life resulted in an individual some often referred to as larger than life.”

Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia Woman of Distinction 2012 honoree Rosemary Dodd, right, chats with Vancine Chandler at the Gainesville First United Methodist Church banquet hall during the annual event. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

A prolific artist whose works grace homes throughout North Georgia, she was instrumental in establishing the Blue Angel Gallery where she painted with fellow artists.

A Gainesville native, she was married to Ed Dodd, creator of the “Mark Trail” comic strip. Their combined love of nature resulted in her being a co-founder of Elachee Nature and Science Center. She was also co-founder of the Gainesville Ballet, Children’s Theater and the North Georgia Community Foundation. 

Dodd had a particular fascination with angels, collecting thousands of them and selling them at Christmas on Green Street.

“I’m a happy person because I live in Gainesville,” she told the large crowd gathered in the banquet hall at the First Baptist Church on Green Street in 2017. “I’m a creative person because I live in Gainesville.”

Born in Gainesville as the daughter of Jimmy and Jessie Whiddon Wood, she was an only child but had a boundless circle of friends. 

“She embraced me as a sister from the beginning of our friendship,” said her 50-year friend Julia Cromartie. “I always appreciated her for her boundless love as she reached out to so many, especially those on the margin.”

She was instrumental in the founding of Lakeview Academy and established and chaired the first Lakeview Auction that is now in its 50th year. A dedicated volunteer, she served on numerous boards and committees, always seeking to improve the community she loved.

“When I think of Rosemary, the word raconteur immediately comes into focus,” said Dean Adams, her friend and constant companion for many years. “She could capture your attention by telling a story that could bring tears of laughter. I saw her every day and rather than miss her, I choose to carry all those years of wonderful memories with me.”

Dodd was known as a master storyteller. 

“I am concerned that storytelling is becoming a lost art, but Rosemary was a master,” said Enrique Montiel, a friend who knew Dodd for more than 20 years. “I loved how she educated me about Gainesville and the people of Gainesville; I never grew tired of her stories, especially the colorful ones. She was unique in the best possible way and I was honored by her friendship.”

“She could wrap stories around her years of loving Gainesville and connect you, make you feel you had been there, that you experienced it with her,” said LeTrell Simpson, a longtime friend of Dodd. “She was one of a kind, a real treasure“

A graduate of Gainesville High School, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Piedmont College (now University). She worked with Ed Cabell, former head of the fine arts division, Gainesville College, to create the Gainesville Theater Alliance, a joint endeavor by Gainesville College and Brenau University that became a nationally acclaimed theater program. She served as executive director of the Gainesville College Foundation.

She received numerous awards including Rotary’s Woman of the Year, the Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction, The Arts Council Friend of the Arts, Quinlan’s Medallion, three fellowships from Hambidge Center for Creative Arts & Sciences, College Alumni Award; Gainesville College Theater Service Award Piedmont; Northeast Georgia History Center Volunteer Award. She was especially honored to receive the National DAR American Heritage Women in the Arts Award. She was a 65-year member of DAR.

A member of Grace Episcopal Church, her celebration of life will be held there at 1 p.m. on April 1 followed by a reception in the church Parish Hall. Visitation will be held at Little-Davenport Funeral Home from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, March 31. 

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Rosemary Dodd, left, and Mary Hart Wilheit, right, hold each other after being recognized during a Northeast Georgia History Center ceremony in Gainesville. - photo by David Barnes