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Northeast Ga. Business Hall of Fame inducts 3 members
Dr. Tricia Robertson, right, talks with Lessie Smithgall on Thursday during the Junior Achievement third annual Northeast Georgia Business Hall of Fame dinner at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville. Smithgall was one of the honorees at the evening event. - photo by SARA GUEVARA | The Times

Northeast Georgia Business Hall of Fame 2012

Lessie Smithgall
Smithgall graduated from The University of Georgia’s journalism school in 1933. Her contributions to the field of journalism cover radio, broadcasting and print. She and her late husband, Charles Smithgall, founded The Gainesville Daily Times in 1947. They owned the daily newspaper until 1981 when they sold it to Gannett Co.
Smithgall is credited with being instrumental in the creation of broadcasting’s prestigious Peabody Awards.
Smithgall’s interests in media, the arts and nature have spurred several generous contributions to the community. She donated land and funds for the creation of Smithgall Woods and the Smithgall Woodland Gardens. She founded The Arts Council in Gainesville and Brenau University’s tennis program.
Smithgall recently celebrated her 101st birthday.

Elton Maddox
Maddox is the president and CEO of Wayne Farms LLC, the sixth-largest vertically integrated producer and processor of poultry in the nation. Maddox has served in several leadership positions within the poultry industry, including president of the Georgia Poultry Federation and director of the National Chicken Council.
He is known for his many leadership roles in the poultry community and for his work through his church as well.
He founded Cross Training Sports Camp, a Christian organization that provides free sports camps to children around the world.

John Jacobs Jr.
Jacobs began his career in media at the age of 12 when he published his own newspaper. After returning from World War II, he founded Jacobs Media Corp. in Gainesville in 1949. His radio station is said to be the first FM station in the North Georgia area.
Jacobs is well known for his community involvement, having served as president of the North Georgia History Center, the Gainesville Jaycees and the Gainesville Kiwanis Club and twice as the president of the Chamber of Commerce.
Jacobs had a passion for education that lead him to create a partnership between Jacobs Media and Brenau University.
Jacobs died Nov. 23.

Passion, integrity and excellence are what it takes to be inducted into the Northeast Georgia Business Hall of Fame.
Those are the words used to describe Lessie Smithgall, Elton Maddox and the late John Jacobs Jr. during Junior Achievement’s third annual awards ceremony Thursday night.

Each of the recipients has generously given back to the community that made them the successful people they’ve become.

A video presentation was shown for each of the winners, highlighting their various accomplishments and the stories of their lives.

Smithgall, who recently celebrated her 101st birthday, was surprised to be given a birthday cake while the audience sang “Happy Birthday.”

After blowing out her candle she thanked Junior Achievement and offered the young people in the audience a piece of advice.

“Don’t be afraid if you change careers in midstream. Your circumstance in life may lead you to chose another path. Don’t be afraid,” Smithgall said.

Smithgall’s career in journalism has encompassed radio, print and broadcasting. She and her husband owned The Gainesville Daily Times from 1947 to 1981. She said she thinks the newspaper has made an impact on the area.

Smithgall was honored for her numerous contributions to the arts, nature preservation and education.

Another local media pioneer was posthumously honored for his community involvement.

Jacobs, who died last November, began his career in journalism at the age of 12, by publishing his own weekly neighborhood newspaper.

After graduating from Gainesville High School and Riverside Military Academy, he served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was awarded two Silver Stars for his actions in the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war, he and a group of friends founded WDUN-AM and -FM, the first FM radio station in North Georgia. He later founded Jacobs Media Corp.

Jacobs was well known for his community involvement. He served on several boards and dedicated much of his time and energy to helping students.

His passion for education is evident by his years of support of Brenau University’s journalism program.  

Jacobs’ wife of 53 years, Martha Jacobs, accepted the award on his behalf.

“I wonder what John would say. He would be so pleased with this award,” Jacobs said.

Helping students with their education is a common goal among the recipients.

Maddox, an influential member of the poultry industry, founded Cross Training Sports Camps with his wife, Claire Maddox, 10 years ago. The Christian camp has expanded to help children in other countries receive an education and learn about sports and the gospel.

He explained that it takes a village, prayer and the grace of God to raise a child.

He said his own life is proof of that. Without the support of so many people along the way, he said he would not be where he is.

“So many people have made such an impact on my life. They help us achieve what we do in life,” Maddox said.


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