m oeschnerLooking for a larger home for herself, her husband John, their then 1-year-old daughter Sylvie (now 17) and their 2 dogs Mary Lou Oechsner is so happy they settled in Avondale Estates.

Originally from the Garden State of New Jersey Mary Lou moved to Atlanta in the mid 80s. She followed her dream of acting and worked on many Atlanta stages including The Academy Theatre, Horizon Theatre, and a few national touring shows.

After marrying her talented chef husband John she paused her acting career to explore another interest – floral design. Her business “Fleur de Lou” provided floral designs for many weddings and special occasions.

Although she still enjoys designing flowers for a few select clients, she became certified as a reading specialist and offers tutoring.

In addition to membership in the Garden Club Mary Lou enjoys her book club, handwork club, and sharing wonderful meals with her family and friends – especially at the pool!

Mary Lou has contributed to the Avon Garden Club in many ways over her years of membership, but most will remember her beautiful flower arrangements that have graced Avon Garden Club’s Holiday Dinner for many years. She also has presented programs on flower arranging at several of our general membership meetings. She has been a member who has always answered any call for help with grace and good humor.

j payneJeanie Payne shares that she and husband Mike learned to scuba dive more than 20 years ago as a “couples sport.”  Now all three of their kids are certified divers and the sport has become a “family sport!”  

Jeanie and Mike divide their time between Avondale Estates and their home in Suwanee TN.  After selling their home on Exeter Drive, Jeanie and Mike reside in the “tree house” behind Mike’s mother’s home on Kensington.  

Mike is, of course, the son of Avondale’s esteemed Mary Payne and the late Denis Payne.  

In addition to her membership in the garden club Jeanie is a member of a “golfer girls” group of Avondale Estates women who play golf as much as they can. 

christi grangerChristi Granger and husband Tom moved to Avondale Estates in 2013 after retiring. They wanted to be closer to their daughter and family who live in Avondale Estates.

In addition to their daughter, Christi and Tom have two sons who live out west.

Christi is an accomplished seamstress and quilter. She also knits and belongs to a local knitting group.

Christi enjoys gardening. She also creates beautiful floral designs and recently represented Avon Garden Club in the February mini-flower show at the DeKalb Federation of Garden Club. Christi manages to find time to be active in both of Avondale Estates Garden Clubs!

The Grangers are also active members of the Avondale Community Club.

Cathey Brackett: Hailing originally from the mountains of western North Carolina, Cathey Brackett has lived and worked in the Atlanta area for over forty (40) years. Although Cathey received a degree in journalism from UNC – Chapel Hill, her work life has revolved around the field of commercial real estate, performed both in law office and corporate settings.

Past volunteer activities that she found rewarding were working with the pre-op and mascot programs at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital and as a reading mentor at Atlanta City Schools with the Everybody Wins program.

Cathey enjoys traveling, playing bridge, going to movies and reading. She likes, and keeps, cats but doesn’t consider herself crazy; plus, she has not had to intentionally seek out a pet in many years.

Cathey retired in the fall of 2016 and is still loosely plotting out future plans. She is grateful that retirement allowed her to become a part of the Avon Garden Club and for the opportunities the club provides for learning about gardening and beautification, for socializing and for community involvement.

Cathey plans to take what she learns through the club for the betterment of not only her own yard but for the Stratford Green community where she lives.

melitta brandtMelitta Brandt: I was born in Brooklyn, New York as a first generation American. Both my parents were born in Eastern Europe, my mother came to the US as an infant and my father came as an adult.

I went to Buffalo State University College for my undergraduate degree, and have 2 graduate degrees from UGA. I taught school for 30 years, 2 in Niagara Falls, New York and 28 in Decatur, Georgia. After retiring, I worked at American Intercontinental University in the Fashion Design department for 6 years.

I have been on the Board of the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra for 8 years—all that time my husband, George, was concertmaster. I also volunteer at the Global Village Project, a school for refugee girls. I have been volunteering there for 6 years.

I have 2 daughters Marni 44, and Alaina 37, and 3 grandsons: Luke 11, Liam 9, and Edwin 4 months. I have been enjoying taking care of Edwin while his mom and dad work.

George is the gardener of the family. He plants and it grows! I bring the information I get from our garden club meetings to him to help our garden. (Bruce’s note: Melitta neglected to mention that she is an excellent seamstress and hostess. She also didn’t mention that she and George love to travel and do so often—sometimes to exotic places!)

"Donna Tanner grew up in Houston, Texas, and received a BA in Geography from Texas Tech University.

She spent many years as a stay-at-home parent, raising her two daughters, Samantha and Olivia, in both Texas and southern California.

While in California, she taught classes on herbs and essential oils at an organic farm, ran a small business growing and selling herbs, and also became a certified reiki practitioner.

She and her husband, Joe, moved to Georgia in 2012. Donna enjoys landscape design and cooking with ingredients from the garden."

Carol Gray grew up in Glen ridge, NJ (The Garden State!) where she said she “had the best tomatoes and corn every summer.” When it came time to pick a college, Carol chose Ohio Wesleyan, majoring in art with a teaching certificate. After graduation, she married her college sweetheart, Ken Gray, and the couple stayed on in Ohio so that Carol could teach 5th-12th grade art in Centerburg.


The Grays came to Georgia in 1974 so that Ken could go to Emory to work on his doctorate. However, jobs were scarce for college professors and Ken wound up bartending and eventually managing at Everybody’s Pizza. Meanwhile, Carol was teaching middle school art in Douglasville and commuting from Decatur. After nine years of teaching, she decided to try some different jobs before finding what she describes as her “happiest job as a free lance calligrapher, also working for and sharing studio space with Don Connelly. Mostly I did wedding work, addressing invitations, place cards, etc. I retired from that two years ago and now just do calligraphy for myself and the occasional friend.”


Carol does not consider herself a gardener but enjoys caring for a lovely pond in their backyard. She is especially fond of pitcher plants. Carol says that the couple “also does pretty well with house plants and I have found the two programs I attended particularly helpful.”

kathy depreyKathy Deprey has been an Avon Garden Club member for many years.

During her tenure she has served as President and has held other offices as well.

For the past two years she has chaired or co-chaired the Environmental Committee which was established during the 2016-2017 club year. In this capacity she has successfully developed and implemented many initiatives to increase the Club’s environmental awareness and activities.

As many of you may know, Kathy and her husband, Rod, have a home in Maine where they spend about three months annually. She is a retired Latin teacher who has been convinced to come out of retirement from time to time for short-term stints as a teacher.

Kathy is known for her creativity and energy in pursuing the objectives of Avon Garden Club. She has a grown son, Peter.

rosemary mostellarRosemary Mosteller was born at Emory University Hospital and has lived in the Decatur area all her life. She has lived in Avondale Estates since 1991.

Rosemary graduated from Oglethorpe University.

She retired after thirty years from the DeKalb County School System, having served as a classroom teacher, elementary instructional lead teacher, and assistant principal. Thank you, Rosemary for your service to our children and our community!

She is a member of the Decatur-DeKalb Retired Educators Association. Rosemary is a member of Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church and she enjoys participating in the church’s activities for adults. She enjoys working on family genealogy with her cousins.

p maddoxPat Frontier Maddox’s family moved to Avondale from Chicago when she was just a year old.  Her father was in the furniture business and he had designed & patented a brass planter lamp which enabled the family to leave the frigid north and move to the sunny south in 1948.  Coincidentally, Pat inherited one of the few remaining brass lamps upon the death of her aunt recently.  Over the years, members of Pat’s family have owned & lived in 6 different homes in Avondale!  Pat reports, “Daddy always used to say, ‘The Frontiers have certainly paid their fair share of taxes in this city!"     She goes on to state that growing up in Avondale Estates during the 50's & 60's was idyllic. “I was a member of the original Avondale Swim Team from 1956-1963.  We were an AAU team & traveled all over the southeast each summer to compete in AAU-affiliated swim meets.  My brother, sister & I were fortunate to attend AES & AHS during the "glory days" of the 50's & 60's when Avondale had championship athletic teams, abundant school spirit & outstanding teachers who encouraged us to do ordinary things in extraordinary ways.  (I had a marvelous English teacher my junior and senior years...thank you Robin Dashiell Scott).”  

Pat’s first job was as a secretary in the accounting department of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association., and her first boss and mentor was Mary Payne.  Pat remarks, “How lucky can a girl get?”

“I was fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom after my two daughters were born in '68 and '72.  I joined the work force once again in 1983 when I worked for a criminal defense attorney in Decatur until my retirement in 2013.  David & I are blessed to have a "blended family" with four children between us, and we are further blessed to have 11 grandchildren & 2 great-grandchildren!”

Pat enjoys gardening, baking, calligraphy, decorating the house for all the holidays, including an immense Santa collection with over 250 Santa's.  However, she is the first to report that her pride & joy are my grandchildren and she enjoys spending as much time with them as possible!

Carolyn Chandler is a long-time Avondale Estates residents and has been an Avon Garden Club member for fewer years.  (Interestingly, she used to live in the house where Kerry and John Quinn live now.) 

Carolyn retired from St. Pius X Catholic School in 2006 after working as a librarian there for 24 years.  Since retirement Carolyn has done many interesting things.  For example, she spent three months as a VIP (Volunteer in the Park) on Cumberland Island, Georgia, living in an apartment above the Sea Camp Welcome Center.  In this capacity, she greeted campers who arrived and, after sufficient training, she oriented campers about the wild horses, protecting campers’ food supply from raccoons, and assigned campsites as well as other numerous and sundry duties.  She also made sure that visitors made the last ferry to the mainland.  After that she says, “Then I would open a beer, sit in a rocking chair, and watch the sunset on what seemed like my private island.”  The biggest challenge while living on the island was figuring out the ferry schedule so on her days off she could get into St. Mary’s for groceries and other staples. 

She also spent an additional month as an employee on Cumberland Island during time her duties were expanded.  More recently Carolyn has participated in English immersion programs for Spanish business people who want to learn English.  This spring she plans to return to Spain for two more weeks of participating in the English immersion program—with one week in between for travel—another of her passions.

c johnstonCheri Johnston has been a member of Avon Garden Club for a number of years and served several terms as our recording secretary.  She and husband, Jim Hutchens, have 6 adult children all of whom are married.  They have 16 grandchildren.

Cheri was recently accepted into the Master Gardener program and is currently going through the coursework necessary to complete the class.  She describes the classes as being the equivalent of college course in their level of difficulty and acknowledges that the coursework is challenging.  

When Cheri was a child growing up in Texas, she and her brother were amateur performers, lip-synching before the term was invented.  With her father as their “manager” Cheri and her brother traveled around the Ft. Worth Texas area entertaining in venues such as retirement homes and hospitals and even at a Magic Convention.  The act won a talent contest at the Texas Theatre which later became infamous for the capture of Lee Harvey Oswald.    

j briceJean Brice served as President of Avon Garden Club from 1984-1986 and has been honored as a Lifetime Member of the DeKalb Federation of garden clubs. 

Currently Jean serves as Membership Chair, a position she has held for many years.  Under her leadership we have seen a dramatic increase in membership.  Jean has 3 sons, 7 grandchildren, and 1 great granddaughter!  While she lived for many years on Wynn Way, Jean currently resides at the Regency on Winn Way in Decatur.  Jean loves playing bridge as well as working crossword puzzles and reading.

t st clairMany of us already know that Taylor St. Clair can often be seen walking her dog in the neighborhood and can be seen at Avon Garden Club meetings.  But, did you know that Taylor can also be seen in films and TV?  Yes, she is an actress.  Ask her about her credits.  Taylor makes one of a kind wraps/capes and one of a kind knitted cowls, scarves and shawls and has sold her lovely creations at Avondale’s Holiday Market.  In addition she also makes all-purpose greeting cards, the graphics for which are photographs she has made.  A woman of many talents!  Taylor was also a member of the FSU Flying Circus when she was in college at Florida State University.

m spearsMichele Spears has been an active Avon Garden Club member for a number of years, including serving as President.  She continues to be very active, serving as our Federation Representative and co-chairing the Yellow Daisy Flower Show committee.  She describes herself as a devotee of 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s culture—anything from film to design.  She collects all sorts of items from those decades. She also collects and cares for a wide range of plants. Michele has shared her gift for art with the Club for years, providing beautiful drawings for our annual yearbook.

d aillionDonna Aliion has been a member of Avon Garden Club for many years and currently serves on the Membership Committee, a post she has held for several years.  Donna is married and has one son.  She is an animal lover.  In addition to her activity in Avon Garden Club, Donna is also active in the Avondale Woman’s Club and currently serves as Vice President of that group.  Donna says that 27 years ago she and her husband were living in a small Decatur home.  One Saturday she noticed a house for sale on Avondale Lake.  She says that she called her husband and told him that they were going to buy the house on the lake.  When her husband replied that one does not purchase a house sight unseen, Donna made arrangements for them to see the house the next day.  They wrote a contract on the house the following Thursday and the family has lived in the house across from the Lake ever since.

t followillTerry Followill is fairly new to Avondale Estates and to Avon Garden Club.  Terry’s brother Jim Davis has lived on Fairfield for many years.  Terry has two married children who live in the Atlanta area, a son in Tucker and a daughter in Virginia-Highlands.  Terry serves on the Garden Therapy Committee.  She relates the following anecdote:  Over Labor Day of 2014 I was in a group that spent the week-end at a cabin in Highlands that had been highly recommended.  The cabin was charming but damp and musty, so we were pretty disappointed.  Our opinion changed, however, when we happened to learn that the previous renter was the author Pat Conroy and that the cabin was his “go-to” place for a few weeks each summer.  We were star struck!