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Betty CASTELLANI Obituary
CASTELLANI, Betty BETTY CASTELLANI Betty Castellani began her next journey on January 26, 2014. While we cannot share how long she lived (as she would haunt us), we can say a bit about how she lived. Betty graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University, received her M.Div. from the Candler School of Theology, where she had a 4.0 and graduated first in her class, and earned her D.Min. from the Graduate Theological Foundation with studies at Oxford University, England. In 1999 she was presented with Candler's Distinguished Alumni Award; in 2001 she was named Atlanta Business Chronicle's Healthcare Hero of the Year; and in 2008 she was chosen for the DeKalb Medical Society's Julius McCurdy Citizenship Award, one of only three non-physicians to receive the award in its 35-year history. In 1996, her survivors nominated her and she was selected to carry the Olympic Torch as it made its way through Atlanta. That was one of the highlights of her life, because it came from her patients and her partners on life's journey, whom she loved without limits all the days of her life Betty often spoke of life as a journey of the soul, and her journey reached its summit through her work with cancer survivors. She was the founding Director of the Charles B. Eberhardt Cancer Center, creating the center in 1989 to provide a new approach to cancer. Betty's mantra - Create Hope - became her life's focus, a call to action and a ministry that reached cancer patients all over the world. In Betty's vision of care, we are not destroyed by disease, but transformed by it: instead of fearing death, life is celebrated; and instead of despair, there is hope. She was the heart and soul of this cancer center, its thousands of patients and hundreds of staff and physicians, for the rest of her life. She was a national thought-leader, one of the early champions for the power of survivorship and the need for health care to have a soul. Her support groups and patient-centered approach to care served as models for the region. While she taught physicians, clergy, and administrators a new approach to survivorship and cancer care, her heart remained with her patients. She led her first core support group - her Monday Night Survivors - every week for 30 years, up to the week before she passed. Betty is survived by her husband Bob Castellani, a retired Superior Court Judge, to whom she was married for 50 years and one week; by her two children, Robyn and Marc, to whom she delivered a love and a childhood that made all things possible; by her two sisters, Linda Haag and Nancy Condon, who as a trio were evicted from more than one location for excessive laughter; by Robyn's husband Steve Runholt, Marc's wife and sons Jodie Sutton Castellani and Jordan and Michael Castellani; her nieces and nephews; and all the extended family members who loved her so deeply and who will miss her every day for the rest of our lives. Visitation with family, friends, and others will take place on Thursday, January 30, from 6-8 pm at Turner & Sons, 2773 N Decatur Rd, Decatur, GA 30033. A celebration of her life and call to action for her work to continue will take place at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church on Friday, January 31, at 2pm with a reception in the Fellowship Hall immediately following. The service will be led by the Rev. Dr. McClellon Cox. Those of us who loved her cannot imagine a world without Betty. So we are going to try to create some disciples to carry on her work, to model her belief that the meaning of life is found not only on the mountaintops of joy, but often - and even more so - in the valleys of pain, and one's willingness to walk those valleys with compassion and love. To help support this work, donations can be made to The Betty Castellani Create Hope Fund, Office of Development and Alumni Relations, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, 1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322. "I loved every single thing about my life," Betty said a few days before her passing. "I just wish it had gone on a little longer." While all of us wish this with her, as long as those who remember her carry forth her legacy and live the message of hope and love she preached, her life will continue to heal those in need of comfort. A.S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory, Decatur, GA.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from Jan. 29 to Jan. 30, 2014
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