James R. Wooten
April 7, 1945 – October 29, 2023
Jim Wooten was a man of many interests and much service to each. To the general public, Jim was the award-winning Atlanta Journal-Constitution conservative editorial page editor willing to speak any time to any group that asked. Nationally, he is known and admired as a colonel in the Georgia Army National Guard.
At home, he was a stalwart supporter of the Smyrna library and restorer of the city’s historic cemetery. For 26 years, Jim planned family reunions attended by 200 kinfolk. All the while, he quietly performed countless acts of kindness for friends and strangers, neighbors and family.
James Roger Wooten, 78, died Oct. 29 of Lewy Body Dementia. The memorial service is 2 p.m. Saturday Nov. 11 at Georgia Funeral Care and Cremation Services in Acworth with reception to follow 4-7 p.m. at Boxwood Social Hall in Marietta.
Jim and his five brothers and sisters were reared by their divorced mother in Macon public housing. He was no stranger to hard work. He worked in his high school’s lunchroom kitchen in return for free lunch. To pay for his University of Georgia journalism degree, he worked in a cotton mill and school bus assembly plant and at the Athens newspaper. He was the conservative voice at the AJC until his retirement in 2009. He was respected by conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats.
Jim influenced newspapers large and small through the Georgia Press Association. He was a lifetime member and former president of GPA and was a trustee and former chairman of its educational foundation. Georgia Trend magazine named Jim one of the state’s 100 Most Influential Georgians.
Joining the Army after college, Jim served a tour in Vietnam and continued his military support during 24 years with the Georgia Army National Guard. He participated in a U.S. Army joint project in Tbilisi, the Republic of Georgia. While in Tbilisi, he bought local art to display in his own Georgia home forever connecting the two.
He retired at the rank of colonel and was awarded the Legion of Merit, one of the military’s highest awards for service. Jim was insightful, quick witted and soft spoken. Yet, when the situation called for it, he used what his family call his unmistakably commanding “National Guard voice”.
Jim’s National Guard voice was never used on his granddaughter, Stella Faur. He spent the first year of Stella’s life as her caregiver 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily. Though retired, Jim still wrote a weekly column for the AJC and would take Stella on his interviews with important political figures. Neighbors delighted in Jim’s daily walks with Stella. Few of them knew that it was Jim who for seven years maintained the garden areas around their subdivision entrances.
That wasn’t all Jim maintained. He was an original board member of the Smyrna Cemetery Association, part of the city’s downtown redevelopment program. He took charge of restoring Smyrna Memorial Cemetery established in 1838. His workforce was offenders sentenced to community service.
Jim’s community support didn’t stop there. He was a champion of the Smyrna Public Library and the Friends of Smyrna Library,retiring as its president in 2010. He passionately supported the annual book sales, murder mystery festivals, dinner theater fundraisers, guest speakers, special events, and summer reading program.
In 2011 Jim and his wife, Ann Jarrett Wooten, bought the abandoned 1937 Telfair County home to Georgia’s colorful Gov. Eugene Talmadge and his wife known to all as Miss Mit. With help from the Telfair County community, they restored the dilapidated 12-room historic house and surrounding property into the event space Sugar Creek.
It received the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Award for the Wootens’ and the community’s beautiful authentic restoration and preservation. Two state departments publicly cited Sugar Creek as a valuable force for tourism, economic, and community development growth in the area. It since has been sold as a private residence.
Jim earlier had bought the Telfair County 120-acre farm his ancestors lost in 1933 during the Great Depression. On that acreage he built his sanctuary, a two-story cedar house he delighted in sharing with the youngest Wooten generation.
Survivors include his wife, Ann Jarrett Wooten, daughter Jennifer Wooten Faur and her husband Derrick Faur, and granddaughter Stella Faur, all of Smyrna; sisters Joyce Jump of Fort Valley, Betty Bush of Forsyth, Rita Galloway of Macon and Debbie Wood of Thompson Station, TN; countless nieces and nephews and others of the 200 or so kin who attended Jim’s annual family reunions.
For anyone who cannot attend the memorial service, please join us and share Jim stories 4-7 p.m. at the Boxwood Social Hall reception, 18 Whitlock Ave NW, Marietta, GA 30064.
The memorial service will be livestreamed in a 1:30 p.m. Zoom meeting at us06web.zoom.us/j/8561271071, meeting ID: 856 127 1071.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions in Jim’s memory be made to Georgia Press Association Educational Foundation, Attention: Sean Ireland, 140 Locust St., Avondale Estates, GA 30002.
Boxwood Social Hall,
18 Whitlock Ave., Marietta GA 30064
The Boxwood Social Hall is on the corner next to The Marietta History Center. The building was the former home of the Gone With The Wind Museum. Information on using the Digital Parking Map is at the end of the family-placed death notice and on daughter Jennifer Faur's public Facebook page. On the Digital Parking Map, the Boxwood Social Hall ID is UNIT H22.