Bessie Anice Willcox McArthur died peacefully in Vidalia, Georgia on August 18th, 2023, at the age of 96.
Anice is survived by her children, John William McArthur, Jr and his wife Elizabeth Harper Scheetz McArthur of New Florence, Pennsylvania, Dr. Thomas Reid McArthur and his wife Lettie Margaret Wheat McArthur of Vidalia, Georgia and Genevieve Jarvis McArthur Betts and her husband Donald Samuel Betts of Ailey, Georgia; seven grandchildren, Lettie Eliza McArthur Murray and her husband Matthew Clay Murray of Atlanta, Thomas Reid McArthur, Jr and his wife Lori Hanna McArthur of Athens, GA, Genevieve Floy Betts Gardner and her husband George Grant Gardner of Douglas, GA, Mary Anice Betts of Atlanta, Drury Katherine Betts of Atlanta, GA, John William McArthur III of Washington, DC, Andrew Larson McArthur of Washington, DC.; and four great-grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her husband, John William McArthur, and siblings Drury Reid Willcox, Eli Kennedy Willcox and Mary Louise Willcox.
Anice was born in Scotland, GA and grew up in Lumber City, GA. She attended Wesleyan College in Macon. She was grateful for her many years as a middle school teacher in the Montgomery County and Vidalia school systems, as she believed in every young student. She also enjoyed her career change, with her ownership of a real estate brokerage business, McArthur Realty. She was a lifelong member of the Methodist Churches of Lumber City, Mount Vernon, and most recently Vidalia Cornerstone Church.
However, many people remember Anice for her engagement with charitable, community and not-for-profit organizations, which contributed to her being named in 1989 by the Vidalia Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi as Lady of the Year and in 1994 as Montgomery County Citizen of the Year. She served on the original Board of Directors of First Community Bank (later BB&T and currently Truist) and as chairperson of the Compliance Committee. She was also a founding member of the Meadows Regional Hospital Foundation.
In the area of arts and education, she served on the Brewton Parker College Board of Visitors, the Montgomery County Library Board, as First Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Southeastern Technical Institute, and as a member of the Montgomery County Adult Literacy Committee. She served on the committee to form the Ohoopee Regional Council for the Arts and as a member of the steering committee which established the Altama Gallery and obtained the Brazell House as its headquarters. She was also a charter member of Friends of Vidalia-Toombs County Libraries.
Her curiosity for and interest in historical preservation was evident from her work as a member of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, her vital role in the restoration of the Montgomery County Courthouse, as a member of the Montgomery County Historical Society, her help in restoring the Cooper-Conner House (spearheading the move with Don McArthur to donate the home to Brewton Parker College), her planning and orchestration of the Montgomery County Bicentennial and as past regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Anice was also involved in many community development activities, including as a member of the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, as a President and member of the Altamaha Basin Board of Realtors, as a member of the Strategic Planning Task Force of Meadows Memorial Hospital, and as a charter member and President of the Pilot Club of Vidalia, numerous years with the Vidalia Rotary Club and her longstanding support of the Salvation Army’s work in Vidalia.
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, August 26th at 11:30 a.m. at Vidalia Cornerstone Church, with visitation in the sanctuary at 10:30 a.m. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Anice’s life.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to one of these special projects that she so loved: Friends of the Vidalia-Toombs County Libraries at 610 Jackson Street, Vidalia, GA 30474; Preservation of the Cooper Conner House at Brewton-Parker College, Make checks payable to Brewton Parker College, PO Box 197, Mount Vernon, GA 30445 (please include Cooper-Conner House in the memo line); or The Altama Gallery, 611 Jackson St, Vidalia, GA 30474.