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Lillie Mae O’Dell Green, age 99, community friend and co-founder of Green’s Grocery, died Thursday, March 22 at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville following a brief illness. She is preceded in death by her husband, Walter Franklin Green, and their only son, Ronnie. Lillie Mae was born in Hall County, attended Gainesville City Schools and Tallulah Falls High School. After she and Frank married in 1944 the couple went into the grocery business running their first store out of a gas station and six years later moved Green’s Grocery to Riverside Drive in 1950. For five decades, Frank, Lillie Mae and Ronnie served their community from behind the counter, bagging groceries, telling stories and sharing their unhurried spirit of hospitality in a way that turned strangers into friends and friends into family. The community was their family. Lillie Mae had a gift for making things grow. She knew that through just the right amount of sunshine and rain, beautiful things blossom. When Ronnie died suddenly of a heart attack in 2001 at the age of 55, she and Frank generously donated $4 million from Ronnie’s estate to The Medical Center Foundation to establish open-heart services for the community by naming The Ronnie Green Heart Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Gainesville. The highly recognized center largely contributed to NGMC growing cardiac services for the people of northeast Georgia and becoming the states number one heart hospital for over a decade. Their generosity continues to touch the lives of patients and families every day and will help heal hearts for generations to come. Ronnie’s alma mater, Young Harris College, also benefited from the Green’s generosity and commitment to make possible scholarships and facilities to support students in their journey to obtain their college education. Lillie Mae proudly supported The Ronnie Green Endowed Scholarship Fund and often received hand written notes from student recipients. She was a recipient of The Young Harris College Medallion, the highest honor bestowed by Young Harris to alumni and friends for her “inspiring legacy of ethical business practices, exceptional customer service, wise financial savings, and a lifetime dedicated to hard work.”
Lillie Mae was a member of Gainesville First United Methodist Church. A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 25 at Gainesville First United Methodist Church. Internment will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday at Alta Vista Cemetery Gainesville. Family and friends are invited to gather for time of fellowship in the reception hall at the church immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to : The Ronnie Green Heart Center, c/o The Medical Center Foundation, 2150 Limestone Parkway, Suite 115, Gainesville GA 30501; or The Ronnie Green Endowed Scholarship Fund at Young Harris College, P.O. Box 275, Young Harris, GA 30582. Little-Davenport Funeral Home, Gainesville.