Social Butterfly

Fernbank Museum exhibit chronicles donor's travels

If you take the kids to Fernbank Museum of Natural History this summer, be sure to stop to admire "Reflections of Culture," a permanent exhibit featuring items collected over years of world travel by Atlanta philanthropist Dorothy McClatchey. A fixture, along with the late Devereaux McClatchey in Atlanta's civic set, she passed away last week at the age of 102. Her grandson Devereaux F. McClatchey V shared reflections on her life at the memorial service.

"She had the capacity to make any moment a totally unforgettable one," he said. "She told me that she had resolved a long time ago that it was her mission in life to show the world that old age can be the best time of life. She remained relevant, passionate, curious and involved right up to 102. In our last phone conversation, four days before she died, she giggled with excitement about the new school she was telling me I should start."

We had the honor of meeting Mrs. McClatchey last summer. At a luncheon at Fernbank, members of the Boys and Girls Clubs' Youth Art Connection, who had just returned from a trip through China, spent time with their benefactress. Accompanied by daughter Eve McClatchey Saunders and son John Saunders, Mrs. McClatchey delighted in the company of the young travelers.

Fernbank President and CEO Susan Neugent praised Mrs. McClatchey's dedication to the museum.

"Dorothy lived the story told in the 'Reflections of Culture' gallery and because of her generosity and dedication, we can share that story with every visitor who comes to Fernbank Museum of Natural History," Neugent said. "Her contributions to Fernbank and to the community at large are much bigger than the exhibition, yet the exhibition chronicles such a big part of her passion, her joy, her life and her desire to better the community through education."

Car talk

Classic car collectors James Strickland and Lynford Bentley met this spring while cruising around town, Bentley in his 1956 Rolls-Royce and Strickland in his 1966 Jaguar convertible. Turns out that Bentley's collection also included the sleek 1930 Cord L29 that once ferried Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh through town as Atlanta celebrated the premiere of "Gone With the Wind."

Known as "Atlanta's parade car" because of its role in festivities over the years, it had fallen into disrepair. Strickland's love of cars, history and family sparked an idea. He arranged for the car to be repaired and had it brought to the Georgian Terrace, site of the 1939 "GWTW" gala, for its grand reopening last month. Accompanying him were his parents, James M. and Carolyn Strickland.

"They met 62 years ago," James Strickland said, "down the street from the Georgian Terrace."

Cheers to volunteers

Two Atlanta-based Time Warner employees received this year's Andrew Heiskell Community Service Awards for outstanding volunteer achievement. CNN anchor Betty Nguyen established Help the Hungry, which provides humanitarian aid to impoverished areas in her native Vietnam. Kay Madoti, vice president of audience experience, founded and heads the board of trustees of Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School in New York. The award honors the memory of the late Time Inc. Chairman and CEO Andrew Heiskell, who was a passionate advocate for volunteerism. . . . Camp Sunshine in Decatur has won a $10,000 grant from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. thanks to great work by Alpharetta's Joe Whitwell, a MassMutual agent. Whitwell has worked for more than 24 years with Camp Sunshine, serving as counselor and raising money to support its programs. Camp Sunshine serves children with cancer. "A lot of my time, my heart and a whole lot of love have been poured into this camp throughout my life," Whitwell said.

By Jennifer Brett butterfly@ajc.comSocial Butterfly