ATLANTA -- Sixty-three years ago Thursday, Atlanta's most famous
resident of the first half of the 20th century died in Grady Memorial
Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell was struck by a speeding car on Peachtree Street on Aug. 16, 1949.
She remains a very big draw in this city, and her legacy is multi-layered.
In the 100-year-old Ansley Park home of Lillian Mitchell-Timberlake,
the Mitchell family Bible is open to the genealogy page. It is there you
see Lillian's name and that of her first cousin, Margaret Mitchell.
"She would have been amazed after all these years people are
interested in going to the movie, reading the book and hearing about the
anniversary," Mitchell-Timberlake said of Gone with the Wind.
And after all these decades, Miss Lillian, living in her home of 53
years, still thinks of cousin Margaret and the spot where she was struck
and killed, at Peachtree and 13th streets.
Mitchell husband John Marsh were leaving the Atlanta Women's Club on
that fateful night. The couple was planning on seeing a movie across the
street. Mitchell stepped off the curb and into the afterlife; she was
struck by a speeding car driven by a man who had been drinking. She was
only 48 years old.
David Moore, executive director of Oakland Cemetery in Grant Park,
says Mitchell's plot is eternally popular. Moore, an Atlanta native,
says the late author impacted his life as a child.
"Whenever we crossed the street as a family, my mother would grab my
hand and say, 'Don't you dare let go. This is the way Margaret Mitchell
died.' I believe her untimely death save my life too," he said.
Mr. Moore says tourists come from all over the world to have their picture taken in front of Mitchell's monument.
Atlanta author Ira Joe Johnson paid his respects to Ms. Mitchell's
grave Wednesday afternoon. He wrote a book chronicling the
correspondence between the famous writer and Dr. Benjamin Mays, the
legendary president of Morehouse College.
"Dr. Mays wrote a letter to Margaret
Mitchell. Gone with the Wind had just premiered in 1939, so he asked
Margaret Mitchell, would you donate one scholarship?" Johnson said.
Mitchell did, and all these years later, the Mitchell legacy lives on at the Morehouse School of Medicine.
"Her nephew, Eugene Mitchell, continues her charity and gave $5
million to Morehouse. So for the next 100 years, there will
be Margaret Mitchell scholars marching out of the Morehouse School of
Medicine," said Johnson, who will lay a wreath at her gravesite Thursday afternoon.
Margaret Mitchell remains a star in perpetuity to the city she loved. Her footprints around
town can still be seen.