Even 80 years later, it seemed fitting that the former Gladys Morrison was voted “Most Lovable” in the Girls High class of 1933. Even in recent years when she could no longer speak due to Alzheimer’s disease, people at the assisted living center where she lived still sensed she was something special.
“Not only the people who worked there, but family members of other residents would say, ‘Your mother is so sweet,’ or ‘We just love your mother,’” said her daughter, Holly Townley of Roswell. “So she was not only loving, but she was beloved too.”
Gladys Morrison, who married Robert S. Wiggins in 1940, joined Saint Mark United Methodist Church that same year. While she’d always been active in the ministries of the church, once the couple’s two children went to college, Gladys Wiggins became even more involved, her son said.
“A lot of what she did had to do with providing food and shelter,” said Robert S. Wiggins, Jr. of Decatur. “And she became very active, maybe because that was a time when people in Atlanta realized that type of assistance was truly needed.”
In the 1960s, Gladys Wiggins was among several members at Saint Mark who helped establish an overnight shelter for homeless women and their children. She not only volunteered to stay overnight with the women and children, she also helped provide meals and laundered the sheets the church used for bedding.
To honor her commitment to the shelter, which is now transitional housing, the church named the facility Wiggins House, her daughter said.
“The shelter was a big part of her life for many years,” Townley said.
Gladys Morrison Wiggins of Roswell died Aug. 27 from complications of Alzheimer’s. She was 98.
A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. on Sept. 12 at Saint Mark. Her ashes will be buried in a private family ceremony. A. S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.
Wiggins was born in Atlanta and after graduating from Girls High, she enrolled at Wesleyan College before transferring to Emory University. She graduated in 1937 with a degree in sociology and taught first grade at the former Georgia Avenue School, her daughter said.
She taught until her first child was born, when she transitioned into being a homemaker. Wiggins and her husband were married for more than 55 years before he died in 1995.
Wiggins not only took care of her family, but anyone who needed help, her children said. She continued to volunteer at the shelter until the ’90s and attended church as often as her health would allow up until 2000, her daughter said.
“There were all sorts of ministries that she enjoyed,” her son said. “And I do believe she enjoyed being of service.”
In addition to her son and daughter, Wiggins is survived by five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
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