Robert Symms

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    - Mary Barton Hitt
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    - Tonya Hawes Clark
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    - Lulline Hodges Phillips
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Robert Symms went home to be with his Savior on Thursday, May 8, 2014 in Augusta, GA. A beloved husband, father and grandfather, Robert's love for the Lord Jesus Christ was evident in his desire to live every day for God's glory. Survivors include his wife and business partner of 32 years, Helen Witte Symms. They served the Lord in faithfulness as husband and wife. He leaves eight children and twenty-four cherished grandchildren and great-grandchildren - sons: Mark H. Symms and children Dayna and Baylie, Andrew Symms with wife Keelyn and children Ashby, Cameron and Evan; daughters: Amy L. Symms and children Jacob and Elias, Mary Anne E. Symms-Schweser with husband Eric and children Brooks, Symms and Rhys, Jennifer Peer with husband Rob and children Gabrielle, Hogan and Laura, Jenene Craig with husband Steve and children Stephanie, Michael, Kristen, David, Justin and Sandra, Charlene McGrath with husband Jim and children Caitlin and Sean, Deborah Beeson with husband Denzil and children Denzil, Alice, Sara and Charlie. He is also survived by his sister, Mary (Mrs. Joe) Byrd and numerous nieces and nephews. His parents, R. Allen Symms and Emma Lehman Symms, and sister, Carol Symms Love, preceded him in death. Robert, a 4th generation Augustan, grew up in Augusta and graduated from Richmond Academy in 1948. While a teenager, Robert worked at Anderson's Florists, Kings Way Pharmacy and Hill Drug Store. He attended the Junior College of Augusta, the forerunner of Augusta State University and Georgia Regents University. Mr. Symms was a photographic portrait specialist and former owner of Fitz-Symms Photographers, Inc. He started in the photographic business with the late Morgan Fitz in 1949. Since that time, he has won many awards for his photographs from State, Regional, National and International Professional Photographic Exhibitions, including numerous First Place and Best of Show awards. He received the degree of Photographic Craftsman in 1972 and the degree of Master of Photography in 1975 from the Professional Photographers of America Association. He also earned the Associate and Honorary Associate degrees from the American Society of Photographers and the Service and Fellowship degrees from the Georgia Professional Photographers Association. He has received the prestigious National Award from both the Georgia Professional Photographers Association and the Southeastern Professional Photographers Association. He has held many offices in professional photographic associations and is a past President of GPPA, SEPPA (above listed associations) and ASP, the American Society of Photographers, an International Society of degree holding photographers. He is a past President of the Augusta Chapter of American Business Clubs and the Augusta Amateur Organist Association. He has served on the boards of Better Business Bureau of Augusta, Imperial Theater, The Community Outreach for the Handicapped and Bethlehem Community Center. He served as Executive Vice President of the SEPPA from 1977 to 1985 and received the SEPPA Governors Award with Distinction in 1987 for over 22 years of service in that association. He served as an International Photographic Judge for many years and was an instructor at the Winona Photographers Association School at North Georgia Technical College in Cartersville, GA. He has presented photographic programs at the Professional Photographers of America Conventions and at state and regional professional photographer conventions in over 30 states. Robert was selected by Eastman Kodak to be the first photographer to serve in Kodak's "Mentor" program in the Far East, instructing in the photography of children. He presented Seminars to hundreds of professional photographers in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Taipei in 1991. Along with his wife, Helen, he served as co-President and presiding officer of the Adult Couples and Singles Class at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church since 1987, where he is also a past Chairman of the Administrative Board. He and Helen served as delegates from Trinity on the Hill at the United Methodist Church North Georgia Annual Conference for 5 years. What started out to be just a hobby for the entertainment of his family and friends, turned out to be a very successful avocation of performing for Robert Symms. Robert started out at the age of 13 practicing his comedy record pantomime act, now known as 'lip-sync', never realizing that the talent he was developing would take him half way around the world with USO Camp Shows. It even lead to entertaining the President of the United States, President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower and friends at a party at the Augusta National Golf Club. Sammy Barton, Jr. gave Robert an early start, performing on many of the then Augusta Youth Organization's many stage presentations. He was in big demand for conventions and private parties, appearing throughout the Southeast and later performing throughout the country. Early in his career, Robert was joined by Tommy Hodges, better known in later years as "Mr. Tom Cat", forming a duo act called "The Pantomites." With the help of radio star Phil Baker, the $64 Question Quiz man of the radio show, "Take It or Leave It", The Pantomites were hired to make a 1952 USO Camp Show tour of Korea, Japan and the Pacific Islands, entertaining thousands of service men and women. With a love of music his entire life, Robert played various keyboards and spent many delightful times in performing his musical talents to a wide variety of audiences over the years. His 'specialty' was the old tunes from the 1920's through the 1950's. Robert was the first recipient of the Matt Stovall Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award from The Augusta Players in 2003 for his many years of support to the Players. Photography started out as a hobby for Robert, then a profession and once again a hobby, photographing many areas throughout the world and presenting Audio/Visual productions of his work to local audiences. Now as he praises the Lord in Heaven, his legacy here will remain with all those who knew and loved him. A memorial service will be Monday, May 12, 2014 at 5:00 P.M. at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church with Dr. Mike Cash, Dr. David Jones and Rev. Greg Hatfield officiating. Honorary pallbearers will include members of the Adult Couples and Singles Sunday School Class from Trinity. In lieu of flowers, if so desired, memorial contributions may be made to Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church, 1330 Monte Sano Avenue, Augusta, GA 30906. The family will receive friends Sunday afternoon from 6:00 until 8:00 P.M. at Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors, 214 Davis Road, Augusta, GA 30907. Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors, 214 Davis Rd., Augusta, GA 30907 (706) 364-8484. Please sign the guestbook at
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Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors
214 Davis Road
Augusta, GA 30907
(706) 364-8484
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