A celebration of Sue Wilson’s life is set for 7 to 9 p.m. Friday in the community room of McDonald and Son Funeral Home, 150 Sawnee Drive. Condolences can also be expressed online at www.mcdonaldandson.com.
The community is mourning the death of the founder of a nonprofit organization that helps separated, divorced and widowed women.
Sue Wilson, director of Garden of Empowerment, passed away Dec. 6 after a battle with breast cancer.
A celebration of her life is planned for 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at McDonald and Son Funeral Home, 150 Sawnee Drive.
According to the organization’s Web site, Garden of Empowerment’s goal is “to help women move forward with their lives by providing a safe place for emotional healing and growth.”
Wilson also began A Woman’s Life Expo, a large business event for women, three years ago as a fundraiser for the organization.
Held in late September, the 2012 expo drew about 80 vendors, many of them female business owners.
Betty Oliver helped Wilson organize the expo and had known her for about six years. She said Wilson will be greatly missed by many in the community.
“I think we had figured out that it was a little over 1,200 ladies [she had helped] in the last 11 years,” Oliver said. “She was very highly respected and she gave of herself constantly. She was a wonderful woman.”
Oliver added that Wilson “always put other people first.”
“I think she had been through so much in her life that she had a great appreciation for helping people,” she said. “She always was very positive and influential with people.
“She always had a kind word, was never negative and was just a very genuine, down-to-earth, nice lady.”
Sylvia Cardona, executive director of Mentor Me North Georgia, knew Wilson through the local nonprofit community.
“Through her organization, she brought a lot of warmth and encouragement to people who really needed it when they were going through a tough time in their life,” Cardona said.
She noted that Wilson helped her personally a few years ago when her mother, who lives in another country, went through a divorce.
“I remember going to [Wilson] for some advice because my mom doesn’t live in this country so she couldn’t go to the support group, and [Wilson] recommended a couple of books and a few things that she could do and she was very helpful,” Cardona said. “She always had time to listen, advise and encourage others.”
According to her obituary, Wilson, who was born in New York, was 66. She is survived by her son, daughter-in-law Jennine and three grandchildren.
Oliver said Garden of Empowerment will continue despite Wilson’s passing.
“I know her son’s taking care of some things, but there’s one of the ladies who has been a longtime member … she’s going to continue the group for at least another year until they figure out exactly where it’s going to go,” Oliver said.
“We’re also considering continuing A Woman’s Life Expo and possibly doing it to donate to other women’s charities. But we have to work through all that as well because we don’t know all the nonprofit issues and things.”
Cardona said Wilson assisted a group that many may not think of as needing help.
“With women who are going through a divorce, [Wilson] helped reach out to a community of people who are often overlooked,” she said. “We think of fallen soldiers, we think of parents who have lost children and a lot of other people who are grieving, but not necessarily divorcees.
“She helped shed light on that need and encouraged women to support each other and move on past that lose.”