The pews of Conyers First Presbyterian were filled to capacity with family, friends and admirers of Rockdale County's former first lady, Mary Elizabeth "Libby" Poynter, 57, on April 17.
Poynter was known and respected far and wide not only for her political and business acumen, but mostly for her love and dedication to her family. CPC's Pastor Tom Sparks said, "Libby led a full and robust well-lived life that knew the dignity of work, the value of education, the love of a husband and children, the blessing of grandchildren and the joy of being baptized in Jesus Christ."
Everyone who knew her in various capacities remarked on the unusually strong bond she shared with her husband Randy, Rockdale's former County Commission Chairman from 1989 until his premature death in 1998.
"It is hard to separate them...they became so close they seemed half of a whole," said sister-in-law Andrea McDaniel. "Each had a very strong personality, but their world views were highly compatible and helped them forge a very successful life partnership."
The Association of County Commissioner's Executive Director Ross King said, "Libby and Randy were the perfect couple in every measure. Her energy and abilities were limitless, but there was never doubt that her core priority was her family."
Losing her life's partner was tragic, but Poynter drew upon her inherent strength to oversee Randy's legacies.
"Libby grieved deeply as we all did, but concern for her boys impelled her to move quickly back into life," said McDaniel. "I think she raised two of the most well-mannered men, Randolph and David, whom I've ever dealt with," said former BOC Chair Norman Wheeler. "They're truly outstanding young men and she was an excellent mother."
Among many civic commitments, from Hospital Authority board member to Court Appointed Special Advocate, one particular passion was establishing Veteran's Memorial Park. Fellow board member Norman Wheeler said Poynter tenaciously made several trips to Washington, D.C. on her own dime seeking federal assistance to complete the park.
"Her zeal for that project stemmed from her dedication to Randy - it was something he started and she wanted to finish it." Rockdale Historical Society's Jean Hambrick said, "When Randy was elected, we got a bonus with his wonderful family. They served as an inspiration to others."
Another sentiment echoed repeatedly was Poynter's love of children. She cherished her many nieces and nephews and was a constant in their lives. "She would talk to them and listen as if they were talking about the most important thing in the world," said another sister-in-law Candy McCullough, who raised her children and grandchildren alongside Poynter.
Niece Noelle Collins remembers the time she was running for a school office, and her Aunt Libby spent hours developing a "rap act" to promote her campaign. "She would listen to me as if I were an equal, and when asked always had very good ideas and advice," said niece Katie McDaniel.
Despite the toll cancer took on her energy, Poynter refused to let it call the shots near the end of her life. She would still vacation with friends, travel to family celebrations and graduations and visit her grandchildren in North Carolina so they would know and remember "Grammie."
One of Pastor Sparks' favorite memories was watching Poynter rock children from the Family Promise program to sleep when their families stayed at CPC.
Poynter is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law Randolph and Casey Poynter of Covington, David and Elisha Poynter of Winston Salem, N.C.; grandchildren Riley, Grayson, and Maren Poynter of Covington, Addison and Caleb Poynter of Winston Salem, N.C.; parents Elgie and Mary Louise Hudgins; sisters Barbara Clanton, Wanda Spain, Patti Romero, Leigh Landon; in-laws Kenneth and Marian Poynter; sisters-in-law Sandy Havell, Andrea McDaniel, Candy McCullough; many nieces and nephews. Memorial contributions can be made to the Georgia Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, Inc., PO Box 289, Conyers, GA 30012.