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A Mother's Day tribute to a true renaissance woman

Mother's Day is soon to be, so I ask your forgiveness while I let you know a bit about mine.

My mother died several weeks ago. Many of you have seen her paintings in my store over the years and have loved them. The following will let you know something about the person who created them:

Sarah Elizabeth Rossman Decker Paris was born Aug. 10, 1919, in Savannah at the old Telfair Ladies Hospital, where she was one of the last "Telfair Babies."

She was the only child of Dr. and Mrs. Corben Jay Decker and spent the first three years of her life in Haiti, where her father was a surgeon at the Untied States Naval Hospital in Port-au-Prince. Her father was 62 years old when she was born. After his tour of service in the Navy, and his retirement, he bought a practice in Athens, Ga.

Betty, as my mother was affectionately known, grew up in the house her father built at 638 Milledge Circle. She attended Lucy Cobb Institute as a child and later graduated from the University of Georgia. She was a member of Phi Mu Sorority, the Junior League and the Episcopal church.

My mother was an educator and librarian for many years in Athens and Savannah schools. Her true love, though, was the arts. She was an accomplished pianist, writer and artist. As a matter of fact, her passion for writing consumed most of her time, and she had poems and short stories published over the years. She was a prolific painter of landscapes and portraits -- many of which are in collections throughout the country. She was an avid reader with an extensive personal library and had very catholic tastes -- she was as thrilled to read a good children's book as she was Descartes.

She was a renaissance woman in every aspect of the word.

My mother continued to paint and write until the very end and had just completed a children's book with one of her grandsons just weeks before her death. She had also recently finished painting portraits of her two daughters.

She adored her grandchildren, was always able to stay on the cutting edge of what was happening and had the uncanny ability to relate to any age group. She also loved animals and was never without a furry friend to keep her company.

My mother had a zany personality and a real zest for life.

She moved to Bluffton to be nearer to her family in the 1970s and remained there until her death. She had a charming cottage on the marsh overlooking Myrtle Island and was never happier than when she was sitting on her porch with her beloved family and friends.

She is survived by her five children, 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren -- and her dog, Boysie, and cat, Tug.

Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street.