Lessie Smithgall sat Friday in The Times’ office, a place she and her late husband, Charles, built on the idea that the public has the right to know what is happening in the community.
The Times’ front conference room was dedicated as the Smithgall Conference Room and a portrait of Lessie Smithgall was revealed.
“I think she captured Lessie’s beauty and her spirit,” publisher Charlotte Atkins said of the oil painting.
Smithgall, whose eyesight is failing at 105, asked the artist, Tracy Page, “Did you make me look like a movie star?”
Smithgall also addressed employees gathered in the conference room, quoting from memory the sign that adorns the outside of the building at 345 Green St. in Gainesville: “Guided by the constitutional principle of the public’s right to know, we dedicate this building to the continued enlightenment and freedom of the people of North Georgia.” She followed with: “And now I’ll hush.”
Atkins, whose last day at The Times was Friday, told employees: “When y’all are in this room — whether it’s creating revenue, whether it’s creating content, whether it’s creating the vision of The Times — I want you to know Lessie Smithgall is going to be right here watching you. And I hope that will remind you of why we need to keep doing what we’re doing.”