At its annual meeting this month, the Ansley Park Civic Association (APCA) paid tribute to a pair of neighborhood individuals who have made positive lasting impacts on the historic Midtown neighborhood.
APCA President Julia Emmons told members that a pair of giant oak trees were to soon be planted near The Prado entrance of the neighborhood in tribute to retiring State Rep. Kathy Ashe (D-Atlanta) and the late John Clarke, who passed away this past spring.
Ashe announced last April that she would not be seeking re-election in 2012. Her current term will expire in January and she will be replaced in the 56th District, which currently includes the heart of Atlanta, including many Midtown Patch neighborhoods such as Ansley Park, Sherwood Forest, Home Park, Georgia Tech and Midtown, by Democrat ‘Able’ Mable Thomas, who won the July 31 General Primary.
A former Georgia public school educator, Ashe has served the district for more than 21 years. In announcing her retirement, she indicated she would spend more time with family, including a trio of grandchildren. She added that public policy and educational issues, especially early childhood learning, would remain among her passions.
Said Emmons at the meeting held at the Ansley Golf Club, “She has been a superb public servant and a true friend to Ansley. Anything we needed down at the state house, she was our go-to person.”
Ashe appeared quite surprised and honored by the tribute, calling the neighbohood and its residents, “incredible.”
“Ansley Park has been the constant in a whole series of different districts that went in a lot of directions,’’ she said. “Ansley Park is full of people … who when (Emmons) asks them to volunteer, they stick up their hands and say, ‘count me in.”’
Clarke was one of those Ansley volunteers. The 63-year-old Californina native passed away after a fall on May 7. He and his wife of almost four decades, Elizabeth, moved to the Ansley Park neighborhood in 1993
From his Legacy.com Memorial site:
As a couple and individuals, John and Elizabeth have volunteered for the neighborhood in many ways. John served for years on the Environment Committee. He not only drew attention to the problem of kudzu taking over the Dell, but on his own contacted the city parks department and Park Pride to start doing something about it. He organized three clean up days in the Dell before the Beautification Foundation began a regular spraying program. He hand made signs and knocked on doors to get neighbors to help. He and Elizabeth also inventoried sidewalks and drummed up support for the traffic plan on their street, and recently John volunteered for one of Ward Seymour’s clean up days.
Together they started Neighborhood Diners 16 years ago. They saw a need for something that would bring folks of all ages and income levels together for dinner. At first there was a bit of resistance from the APCA, so for the first several years they were allowed to promote it in the Ansleyphile, but it was not sponsored in any way by the APCA. It was strictly BYOB and BYO Appetizer for the Kick-off party. After a few years, and with the insistence of Jane Harmon on the board, it became an officially sponsored APCA event. Through the years, Neighborhood Diners has grown to be the most participated in Ansley Park event.
John was man of great integrity, kindness, compassion, and good humor. Anyone who was lucky enough to meet and get to know John knew this about him. He will be sorely missed by a community that was made much richer by his presence.
At the meeting, Emmons said Clarke’s sudden passing “sent waves of grief through our neighborhood.” She added. “John loved Ansley’s greenspace, so we feel sure that he would’ve appreciated being memorialized through a tree planted at the main entrance to the neighborhood that he loved and served so, so very well.”