Noted Atlanta philanthropist Boyce Ansley dies at 70

Boyce Lineberger Ansley, whose four decades of work to advance charitable causes in Georgia and other states established her as one of the region’s busiest and most successful philanthropists, died June 20 of heart failure. She was 70.

Friends and associates describe her as a tireless advocate and fundraiser and say her leadership skills, outgoing personality and dedication to giving back benefited a wide range of nonprofits from arts and conservation organizations to her church.

Alfred Kennedy Jr., a member of the board of directors of the Atlanta Opera where Ansley was chair emeritus and past president, recalls she convinced him and others to get involved with the opera in its early days more than 30 years ago.

“She knew many people in the Atlanta community, and she and I began setting up lunches and meetings where she was a star at fundraising and bringing on more support for the Atlanta Opera,” Kennedy says. “She was wonderful, easy to work with, and she had a natural ability to put people at ease.”

“Giving back was her mantra, and her commitment to causes she believed in was genuine and constant,” he said.

In addition to her work with the opera, Ansley was a founding member and on the board of directors of the Georgia Advisory Council of the Trust of Public Land. She also chaired the Atlanta Preservation Center, Atlanta Botanical Garden and was on the boards of the Atlanta Girls School, Frazer Center, Junior League of Atlanta, Cherokee Garden Library at the Atlanta History Center and Center for Puppetry Arts.

Her charitable work extended to Virginia, North Carolina and New York, including service as chairwoman of the Roosevelt/Vanderbilt Conservancy in Hyde Park New York and as a board member of the Washington National Cathedral, among other groups.

Ansley was awarded the American Historic Preservation Award from the Garden Club of America and the Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year award by both the Georgia and National Societies of Fundraising Executives. The Trust for Public Land recently honored her as the 2016 Conservation Champion. She was a member of the Vestry of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, serving two terms as senior warden, and on the board of its Training and Counseling Center.

Patricia Barmeyer, chair of the Georgia Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land and a former college classmate, says Ansley’s leadership guided the organization in its mission to save land and create parks.

“Whether it was a natural area we were working to preserve like land along the Chattahoochee River or protection of a historic area such as the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, or our work to create urban parks or the city’s Beltline for people to enjoy, Boyce Ansley’s breadth of vision was key,” Barmeyer said.

“She was essential to our accomplishments and the work that is ongoing today.”

Ansley was born May 31, 1946, to the late Anna Boyce Rankin and Joseph Lineberger and spent her early life in Belmont, N.C. She graduated from Chatham Hall prep school in Virginia, and Hollins College in 1968. That same year she moved to Atlanta where she married Shepard Bryan Ansley and began her philanthropic work.

In addition to her husband, Ansley is survived by daughters Anna Ansley Davis (Arch) and Florence (“Poncie”) Bryan Ansley, both of Atlanta; granddaughter Anna Boyce Davis and grandson Archibald Hilliard Davis II; sister Anna Lineberger Stanley, of Charlotte, N.C.; and three nephews.

The family requests that contributions be made to the Atlanta Opera; George Washington’s Mount Vernon; Hollins University; Chatham Hall; the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center ; St. Luke’s Episcopal Church; or a charity of choice.