courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Betty Manley promised herself she would never remain on a job when it ceased to be fun.
A tiny spitfire of a woman, she was known as the grandmother of Georgia mediators — a pioneer who zipped around the world teaching others how to peacefully resolve conflicts.
Betty Manley traveled the world teaching mediation. Clearly, she got a charge out of it until the day she died.
“Her passion was teaching, and her classes were always filled with these ‘ah-ha’ moments,” said her colleague Melissa Heard of Powder Springs. “To her, the essence of mediation was about self-awareness, learning what you bring to the table, which then helped you learn how to better serve your clients.”
Ms. Manley earned a master’s in education from Georgia State University and a juris doctorate from Woodrow Wilson School of Law.
She taught at GSU and Emory University, worked as a juvenile court probation officer and family therapist, and founded two companies: Atlanta Divorce Mediators and Mediation Training Institute.
“Her favorite thing to do was domestic-related mediation because of the family dynamics,” Mrs. Heard said. “Her style was very comforting, and even in dispute sessions she just had a way of calming people.”
The memorial service for Ellis Elizabeth “Betty” Manley is 2 p.m. Tuesday at Inman Park Methodist Church. Ms. Manley, 65, of Atlanta died Aug. 3 at St. Joseph’s Hospital of complications from a heart transplant. The body was cremated. A.S. Turner and Sons is in charge of arrangements.
She fell ill a few months ago while visiting Bangkok with her niece and frequent travel companion, Teresa Lemaire of Chicago. Ms. Manley received her heart transplant Oct. 12, 1999.
“She was always a passionate person, but the transplant made her realize everybody is living on borrowed time,” said her stepdaughter Helen Cabe of Atlanta. “She squeezed so much life out of that heart.”
Ms. Manley celebrated the day of her surgery as her “second birthday” and developed friendships with other heart transplant recipients. Never much of an athlete before, she decided to tackle speed-walking, bowling and other sports.
She competed in the Transplant Olympics in 2000 and 2002, won a silver medal in the World Transplant Games in France in 2003, and a gold medal in the world games in London, Ontario, in 2005.
“That was just Betty’s way,” Ms. Heard said. “When something touched her, she’d jump in with both feet.”
Ms. Manley was determined to see as much of the world as possible. She made a sizable dent in that goal.
She operated her business from her Inman Park home but taught mediation courses in China, Japan, Italy, Australia and anywhere else she could. After her work was done, she’d leave time for fun.
“She’s ridden camels in Saudi Arabia and horses in Hawaii and elephants in Thailand, just crazy stuff,” her stepdaughter said.
“She threw herself into everything she could get her hands on, 1,000 percent. And if she couldn’t afford it, she’d make it happen and figure out how to afford it later.”
With her miniature schnauzer, Miss Boo, in tow, Ms. Manley would drive to her St. Simons Island condo to go biking and kayaking.
At her mountain cabin in Bear Paw, N.C., “she would torture people and make them play Scrabble with her for hours until they finally fell asleep,” her stepdaughter said. “She was a nut ball — just a wacky, whimsical person and a rare bird.”
“Everyone who knew her was changed by her,” she said. “She made sure that you stopped and smelled the roses. And if you didn’t, she would grab you and hold your face to them.”
In addition to her stepdaughter, she is survived by her mother, Lois Hemphill Manley, of Kennesaw; three sisters; and a brother.
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