Celestia Foster Loden, 97, of Athens, passed away on September 9, 2013.
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Celestia's childhood was spent in Athens, where she attended Athens High School and was known for her athletic abilities and her grace on the dance floor. After graduation, she received a basketball scholarship to Cox College, in College Park; but homesickness triumphed over basketball and college life, and she returned to Athens, where she was employed by the University of Georgia's Extension Service.
While working there, Celestia became acquainted with a dashing young agriculture student, Harold Loden. They married in 1939, following his graduation. Together they traveled throughout the world, representing the agricultural community and industry. In his capacity as President of the American Cotton Association, President of the International Cotton Association, and Executive Vice President of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), Harold presided over numerous conferences and conventions. Celestia served as the hostess for all of these events and became, in effect, the first lady of these organizations and the woman behind the man that Harold had become.
Upon Harold's retirement in 1983, ASTA and many of their friends in the agricultural community established The Harold & Celestia Loden Endowed Scholarship at the University of Georgia's College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences to honor Harold and Celestia's service. This perpetual scholarship is awarded annually to benefit agricultural undergraduates who seek support for international study programs. In 2010, the College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences awarded Celestia with the Medallion of Honor Award in recognition of her support for the college.
In addition to her role as a corporate hostess, Celestia was a gifted golfer. She often scored in the high 30s on nine holes, playing only with irons. After being repeatedly whipped on the links, Harold refused to play with Celestia because he didn't like being outplayed by his wife.
Upon retirement, the Lodens returned to their roots in Athens and built a home where Celestia lived until her death. Celestia had been active in many endeavors in Athens, but among those she enjoyed most were her association with long-time friends in Sunday school, and other events at the First United Methodist Church of Athens.
Celestia was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Harold D. Loden; parents, Minnie Clyde McCrary Foster and Robert E. Foster Sr.; brother, Robert E. Foster Jr.; sisters, Nellie Foster Burgess and Mary Jo Foster Hartley; and her sister-in law, Donna Greene Foster, of Gainesville, Fla. She is survived by her sister, Minnie Foster, of Athens, and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on September 14, 2013, at the First United Methodist Church of Athens. A reception will be held in the fellowship hall of the church following the service.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Harold & Celestia Loden Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of Georgia Foundation, 394 S. Milledge Ave., Athens, GA 30602.
Published in Athens Banner-Herald from Sept. 11 to Sept. 14, 2013