Tree dedicated to Betty Blondeau at Legacy ParkPhotos of Betty Blondeau were on display during a tree dedication ceremony at Legacy Park on June 11, 2022. Photo courtesy of Al Burrell.
Decatur, GA — On Saturday, June 11, a tree at Legacy Park was dedicated to long-time Decatur resident Betty Blondeau.
Blondeau died unexpectedly on Oct. 2, 2021. She was full of love and energy, and her influence was felt by many. She was tenacious, goal-oriented and a hard worker. Those who knew Blondeau knew she was always up to something.
About 27 people gathered on Saturday to dedicate a white oak tree, which was planted by Trees Atlanta, and a memorial plaque to Blondeau. Both were authorized by the Decatur City Commission, said Al Burrell, a close friend of Blondeau.
Blondeau’s daughter, Laura Blondeau-Robinson, said the ceremony was lovely.
Three speakers spoke about different aspects of Blondeau’s life. Mary Hinkel, a long-time friend of Blondeau, worked with Blondeau at the Alliance Theater and True Colors Theater. Their friendship carried forward into recent years, when Blondeau was a participant in the DeKalb Citizens Advocacy Council and its push for a strong Board of Ethics and to encourage transparency in county government.
Blondeau volunteered for the Atlanta Children’s Theater, as well as the Alliance Theater. She served as the Alliance Theater’s development director. She retired after about 35 years of service and joined Kenny Leon at True Colors Theater as the development director.
“When we were children, she volunteered at Atlanta Children’s Theater. She volunteered there and that’s how she got started in the theater,” Blondeau-Robinson previously said. “We grew up down there, so would help usher the shows, like take people to their seats and hand out the programs.”
After retiring from True Colors, she turned her focus to advocating for causes in DeKalb County and the city of Decatur.
City Commissioner George Dusenbury spoke on behalf of the city and formally dedicated the plaque. He talked about Blondeau’s many years of engagement in local government and business.
She was the ultimate engaged citizen, Burrell previously said. She loved her hometown and wanted it to be everything it could be, he added.
“I think she’s one of the best examples we have of being a good citizen, sometimes taking up causes that are not sure wins but still working for them enthusiastically and in good spirit,” Burrell said.
“She was definitely an advocate for greenspace in Decatur and making sure that the city maintained the integrity of Decatur, that it remained a diverse community. It was very, very important to her,” Blondeau-Robinson added.
Blondeau was a strong advocate for the arts, trees and greenspace. As a member of Save Decatur’s Trees, Betty advocated for the City Commission to adopt a stronger tree ordinance.
“I think [it was important to her] because that’s what Decatur was to her. It felt like a small community because that’s how she grew up,” Blondeau-Robinson said. “It wasn’t a city like it is now. I think she wanted to make sure that it was maintained, that it still felt that way. If you tear down all the trees, then it’s not a little community anymore. It becomes a city, and she liked that community feel of Decatur.”
Lynne Rosner, a member of Save Decatur’s Trees, previously said that Blondeau never claimed to be an expert on trees, but she knew that they were important. She fully supported the group and what they were trying to do.
“One of the things that I always appreciated was, no matter how much she may have disagreed…she was always pleasant,” Rosner said. “She always complimented people, found the positive, while at the same time she was definitely not backing down on any of the things we wanted these politicians to do.”
Blondeau showed Rosner what a person can do if they are persistent. If they believe in something and if they work on something, they can make a difference.
“I think that’s why it hit me so hard because up until the very end she was still 100% going to commission meetings, taking notes, emailing, texting. It just shows what can be done if you are passionate about something,” Rosner said.
Former DeKalb County Commissioner and current chair of Decatur’s Downtown Neighbors, Kathie Gannon, talked about Blondeau’s involvement in the city’s downtown community and DeKalb County government. Blondeau advocated on behalf of the county each year at the Georgia General Assembly.
Other speakers included Rosner and Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett. Rosner discussed Blondeau’s involvement with Save Decatur’s Trees. Garrett spoke about coming to know Blondeau with her presence as a citizen lobbyist on behalf of Decatur and DeKalb County issues, and later on issues that came before the city commission.
“As we all know, when Betty was focused on something, she worked tirelessly,” Garrett said at the Oct. 4, 2021, city commission meeting. “She worked tirelessly for the previous senior tax exemption. She worked tirelessly for the one that is on the ballot this November. She worked really hard with strengthening the ethics legislation and the Board of Ethics in DeKalb County.”
Wherever Blondeau’s heart was, she was in it full force and made a difference, Garret added.
The tree dedication concluded with remembrances from two of Blondeau’s three children, Laura Blondeau-Robinson and Robert Blondeau. Her daughter and grandchildren decorated a table next to the tree with photos, buttons and other mementos.
Blondeau will also be remembered for the love she had for others. Blondeau-Robinson previously said she loved seeing Blondeau with her friends and enjoyed seeing their love for her. She genuinely cared about her friends, and they knew that.
“Her love made other people want to give love. She would always tell me that ‘love is my religion,’ that love will conquer all,” Blondeau-Robinson said.
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