Category: People & Places

Former KGB spy talks about his switch to the American Dream

Jack Barsky, 70, was born in East Germany and recruited to be a KGB agent at just 23 years old. Now, he resides in Covington with his wife and daughter and is living out what he considers the American Dream. “Just because you were in the KGB doesn’t mean you were Superman,” Barsky said at a Feb. 10 Rotary Club of Sandy Springs meeting. “I’m one of the best-trained agents that they ever sent out into the world and I’m just quite normal.” The KGB was a security and secret-police agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until the...

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A Buckhead doctor and historian look back a century at Atlanta’s last pandemic

A deadly, global viral pandemic hits Atlanta. Schools, theaters and businesses shut down to contain it. The healthcare system is strained. Businesses fight to stay open and survive. The public hears mixed messages from authorities about the severity of the illness and the tactics needed to fight it. It may sound like the COVID-19 disease that is threatening lives and the economy today. But that news is a century old: from the 1918-1919 “Spanish flu” influenza pandemic, which is estimated to have killed at least 50 million people globally and 675,000 in the U.S., according to the Centers for...

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Locals adjust to shutdowns, distancing

In a blink of an eye, residents had to adjust to a new lifestyle of “social distancing” and shutdowns for the coronavirus pandemic, with no definite end in sight. The Reporter asked some of them how their lives have changed. Sally Silver, aide to Atlanta City Councilmember Howard Shook “It’s taken me several days for this to kind of sink in. … You look out the window and it looks like the same place you were yesterday.” She has one socializing idea she’d like to run past a doctor friend. “Just for fun, I’m thinking maybe we should institute...

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Kenny Rogers, superstar musician and actor, dies at 81 at Sandy Springs home

Kenny Rogers, the superstar musician and actor known for “The Gambler” song and TV movies, died March 20 at age 81 at his Sandy Springs home. “Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family,” said a statement issued on behalf of the family by Keith Hagan, Rogers’ publicist. “In a career that spanned more than six decades, Kenny Rogers left an indelible mark on the history of American music,” the statement said. Rogers was successful in the rock, country and jazz genres, with such hits as “Lady,” “Islands...

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Sandy Springs alpacas bring smiles on St. Patrick’s Day

Cheesecake and Cassie did not let concerns about the coronavirus ruin their St. Patrick’s Day celebration. They are alpacas after all. A nice stroll on Windsor Parkway in Sandy Springs was all they wanted. Robin Conklin, a local real estate agent, and her friend, Sallie Duncan, were walking the two animals just east of High Point Road on March 17. Conklin wore a green beret to commemorate the day and Duncan donned a curly green wig. The alpacas were celebrating, too. Cheesecake wore a green bridle and Cassie had green tufts of hair sticking out of her own fur...

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Former Brookhaven Mayor Williams remembered as an ABC News ‘superstar’

Rebecca Chase Williams, a former mayor of Brookhaven who died March 11 from cancer at age 70, is being remembered for her career as a TV journalist. She worked for several years at Atlanta’s WXIA-TV station where she won three regional Emmys and went on to a 20-year career with ABC News as a national correspondent. “[M]y colleague, my mentor, my good friend … was so lucky to have such a wonderful partner for those years at ABC News. She made my world a better place,” said Kayce Freed Jennings, wife of the late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings,...

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Exceptional Educator: Teaching historical photography at Lovett

Karey Walter has been teaching both analog and digital photography at the Lovett School for 24 years. Walter’s work is unique because she is teaching in ways that have been forgotten by many: historical photo printmaking. While many schools have moved to digital photography and teach only Photoshop or other finishing software elements, Walter’s students learn black-and-white film photography, printmaking with ultraviolet light, daguerreotype and other historical methods of printing photography. Walter also helps her students enter their photographs in competitions. In January, Walter and Lovett senior Kendall Greene displayed their works at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio, in...

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Rebecca Chase Williams, ‘founding mother of Brookhaven,’ dies

Rebecca Chase Williams, a former Brookhaven City Council member and mayor known by some as the “founding mother of Brookhaven,” died March 11. “It really is a sad day for Brookhaven,” said Mayor John Ernst in a text. “She was the mother of the city.” Williams, who was also an award-winning national reporter for ABC News for more than 20 years, died peacefully at home surrounded by family, according to a Facebook post by her children and husband, Dick Williams. Dick Williams is the retired editor and publisher of the Dunwoody Crier newspaper and former host of the “Georgia...

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Cinema Paradiso: Donna Lefont seeks to keep film history alive with pop-up screenings

When Donna Lefont was 8 years old, her father worked at a local movie theater. As a single dad, he often took his children to work with him, where they would run freely around the theater. Lefont’s favorite place to explore were the projection rooms. She recalls peeking out from behind the machinery and seeing a dark room full of people, their faces lit up by the screen. “It was kind of like a Cinema Paradiso,” she says, namechecking the classic Italian film about a young boy who escapes life in his war-torn village at the local movie house....

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Worth Knowing: A Sister of Mercy returns home to healthcare service

The Sisters of Mercy, founded in Ireland in 1831, were often called “walking nuns.” Instead of staying cloistered, they walked the streets, caring for the poor. Today they “walk” the world, including Atlanta, where in 1880 four Sisters of Mercy founded Atlanta’s first hospital, known for years as St. Joseph’s Hospital, currently Emory St. Joseph’s. Though the hospital is now secular, the Sisters of Mercy have long held leadership roles. One of them is Sister Jane Gerety, Ph.D., who was senior vice president at St. Joseph’s for 17 years (1992-2009) before leaving to serve as president of Salve Regina...

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Around Town: The pirates who bring Mardi Gras to Buckhead

Things started with David Moffett. He wanted a way to get to know his neighbors in the Club Forest subdivision better. Club Forest had several community clubs and social events through which women could meet, he said, but nothing similar for the men. “The women all knew each other, but none of the guys knew each other,” he said. Moffett grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. and went to Tulane, so he had a fondness for Mardi Gras, the traditional no-holds-barred party on the final day or days before Lent, a season of fasting for Christians. He thought Club...

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Goodwill CEO discusses Atlanta’s income equality and new Sandy Springs store

Atlanta is the worst city in the country to be born in poverty and the area has the nation’s most unfavorable income inequality, according to Keith Parker, CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia. Parker, former general manager of MARTA, was the guest speaker at a Rotary Club of Sandy Springs meeting on Feb. 17. He now heads a Decatur-based nonprofit perhaps best known for its donation center and thrift stores through the communities of Buckhead, Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, along with the rest of the metro area. Parker said that while every economic indicator says the area is...

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