Dean Baquet, the newly named editor of the New York Times, has family ties to Rockdale. Many of his family members moved to Conyers after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and some of them still live here.
The Baquets are a prominent New Orleans family, and their post-Katrina move here was highlighted in a 2006 Times article.
Dean's brother Wayne, who runs the well-known New Orleans restaurant Li'l Dizzy's Café, told the News that his daughter, Geri Wilson, happened to live here at the time.
"When Hurricane Katrina hit, I went to my daughter's house in Conyers, me and my wife. The rest of the family followed us," Wayne recalled.
About 19 family members, including the late family matriarch Myrtle, packed into the house. So did the wife and children of another of Dean's brothers-and fellow Pulitzer Prize-winner-Terry, a journalist at the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Terry stayed in New Orleans to cover the disaster. Dean, then the editor of the Los Angeles Times, was in the stressful position of reporting on the destruction from afar while his family sought refuge.
Myrtle and Terry's family later moved from the overcrowded house to a Conyers apartment-and Dean visited town to lend a hand.
"Dean did come and lend support for finding a place for them," Wayne said.
"Conyers really saved us. I loved Conyers," Wayne said. "My memory of Conyers is, I felt really blessed that my daughter was doing so well that [she had a house large enough for the family]. I felt so blessed that I had a place to stay."
In fact, Wayne said, "We almost opened up a restaurant in Conyers." But he decided that going back to rebuild New Orleans was a better and more important move.
Many of the family members returned to Louisiana. Myrtle has since died, and Geri moved elsewhere in Georgia. But some chose to stay and plant local roots, Wayne said, including his son Peter and his sister-in-law Linda. They were not immediately available for comment.
Dean was named the Times editor on May 14 and is the first African-American to hold that top position at America's most famous newspaper.
Wayne said the family is happy for Dean, but not surprised, considering how successful he already has been over the years. His career includes a Pulitzer Prize, journalism's highest honor, as well as the top editorship at the L.A. Times and other high-level editing positions at the New York Times.
"I think that's fantastic," Wayne said. "We're very proud of him."