Grayce Todd Watkins passed away on Monday evening, April 22, surrounded by friends and family after an 8-year battle with metastatic melanoma. She was preceded in death by her father, Robert Watkins and her brother, Scott. Her mother, Kathleen, her husband of 19 years, Michael Roden, two stepchildren, Christopher and Katherine, and her beloved dogs, Hazel and Brownie, survive her.
Todd was born at Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta on November 17, 1961, to Kathleen and Robert Watkins. Her Atlanta roots ran deep, and she was an avid supporter of the Braves, as well as a Falcons season ticket-holder.
Todd's gifts as a scholar and an athlete were evident from early on. At Chamblee High School she served as president of her senior class, played guard on the basketball team (in spite of the coach), was a member of the swim team, and excelled across the curriculum. At the University of Georgia
, she was a Phi Beta Kappa, honors student who played intramural softball and ultimate Frisbee. She received her B.A. (English) cum Laude with honors in 1983. Reading and discussing books remained a life-long passion for Todd, and her favorite authors included Iris Murdoch, Robertson Davies and Charles Dickens.
Following graduation, Todd worked for the British Consulate in Atlanta. She returned to UGA in the early 1990s and earned a M.S. degree (1993) in geology under the direction of Dr. Sue Goldstein. Her research resulted in several publications in the scientific literature concerning salt marsh biota. She then commenced a professional career in environmental geology, working for the Southern Company in Birmingham and Atlanta. While working, Todd completed Duke University's prestigious Executive M.B.A. program, specializing in international business. She continued her career at Mirant (R.I.P.), where she was promoted through a number of positions to project manager. Just before diagnosis with melanoma, she had returned to geology working for MacTec.
The family thanks the doctors (Dr. Nicholas Papadopoulos, Dr. Merrick Ross) at MD Anderson, and especially the Emory melanoma team (Necia Maynard, Dr. David Lawson, Dr. Keith Delmon) who through their skill and compassion helped Todd to persevere in spite of this horrible disease for many years. The family also thanks the nurses (Amanda, Sandy, Stacey) of Hospice Advantage for their compassionate care of Todd at the end of her life.
As Todd fought her disease, she continued to live fully and vigorously, traveling to Ireland, France, Vietnam, and Croatia, and spending time each year in the beautiful area around St George Island, FL. She remained physically and mentally active, enjoying cycling, kayaking and swimming, competing in a team triathalon with two dear friends, always reading, reveling in folk art and good music (John Prine, Van Morrison), and ultimately fulfilling many of her dreams. A memorial service will be held on May 19th starting at 11 AM at the family home (children welcome): 409 Quail Creek Drive, Monroe, Ga 30656. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in her memory to Winship Melanoma & Skin Cancer Fund, please make check payable to Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University (Office of Gift Records, Emory University, 1762 Clifton Rd. NE, Suite 1400, Atlanta GA 30322).
Lawson Funeral Home, 4532 Highway 53, Hoschton, GA 30548; (706) 654-0966; www.lawsonfuneralhome.org