Two Inspiring Members Recently Lost

by Tamara A. Bazzle

In 2004, I received a phone call from Belle Turner Lynch, a neighbor whom I had never met. Over iced tea and refreshments in her elegant home, Belle enumerated her concerns about tear-downs in the Peachtree Heights West neighborhood, and described a possible solution under the City of Atlanta’s Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 20, which regulates Historic and Landmark Districts. That meeting resulted in an eighteen month effort to have PHW become an Historic District. A leadership group was formed, and many other neighbors participated by hosting about 20 meetings to explore the possibility. While the effort ultimately failed, Wright Mitchell, a key member of the effort and the founder of Buckhead Heritage, reminded me after Belle’s passing on May 13, 2021, that the founding of BH grew from that effort, one initiated by Belle Turner Lynch.

Belle was a Founding Member of Buckhead Heritage, and she and her husband, Barry, hosted the beautiful dinner party for Founding Members. Later, Belle served on the BH Board of Trustees and was an indefatigable member of the Projects Committee. I don’t know of a Buckhead Heritage event over the past fifteen years that Belle and Barry didn’t support financially in a major way. Her commitment to Buckhead Heritage, as well as Oglethorpe University, Atlanta Speech School, Atlanta Preservation Society, and the Atlanta Public School’s Milner Award hopefully will inspire others to become more involved in our community. The Buckhead Heritage Board is in the process of developing criteria for the Belle Turner Lynch Preservation Award.

Soon after I became president of Buckhead Heritage in 2018, I received a call from Duncan Gray, a wonderful man and an engaged member of Buckhead Heritage. Duncan was aware that New Hope AME Church had a new pastor, and while driving by the church, he spotted someone he thought might be that person. He stopped to introduce himself and was so impressed by Pastor David Richards that he called me a few days later to suggest that I had to meet him! Duncan set up and attended that meeting with Pastor Richards and several of his Trustees, a meeting that reinvigorated a relationship that went back to the early days of Buckhead Heritage. Our current project at New Hope AME Cemetery led by Ivan Allen in collaboration with several other groups is outlined in “New Hope AME 2021 Project.”

Duncan, along with his wife Judy, was an active member and supporter of Buckhead Heritage for many years. They have attended many events and been significant financial contributors, but perhaps their greatest contributions have been as dedicated community members and initiators of change. Duncan Gray passed away on July 4, 2021. He will be missed, but hopefully his legacy will inspire others to work toward a richer Buckhead community.