Mr. Athey Graves Gillaspie, Jr., 81, of Peachtree City, passed away on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at Piedmont Fayette Hospital.
Graves was born July 30,1938 to Athey and Virginia Gillaspie in Asheville, North Carolina. A sister, Virginia (Ginny) Scott, was born in 1942. The family moved to Hamilton, Ohio, in 1952. After graduating from Hamilton High School, Graves completed his undergraduate work in botany at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and his PhD in plant virology at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. He married Margaret Fleming in 1965. They celebrated their 54th anniversary in August of this year. Following his graduation from Purdue, Graves began a career with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a Plant Pathologist where he remained for 45 years. During that time, he and Margaret lived in Houma, LA, Crofton, MD, and finally Peachtree City, GA and were deeply involved in the church at each of those locations. They had two children, Timothy Graves Gillaspie of Charleston, SC and Jonathan Todd Gillaspie of Atlanta, GA, and two grandchildren, Sean and Samuel.
Graves’ work for the USDA focused on the viral diseases of sugarcane, peanuts and other important agricultural crops. He managed research laboratories in three different USDA sites. He also maintained a national sugar cane quarantine center where imported materials were tested for disease prior to being released for use in the US. As a result of his work in these arenas, Graves became an internationally recognized expert. He travelled extensively around the world for consultation with colleagues and peers. He provided expertise and assistance in developing countries.
Graves served as a deacon, Sunday School Teacher, and was an active participant in Bible study groups. He was a man of humor and enjoyed terrible jokes, puns, funny greeting cards, silly t-shirts, tv shows (Dr. Pol was his favorite tv show which he enjoyed immensely) and books -- a trait he passed on to his children and grandchildren. He was extremely family oriented and actively maintained those connections throughout his life including when he and Margaret divided their time between Peachtree City and Charleston SC to be near and connected with their grandchildren, Sean and Samuel. Graves was a lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan and later became an equally avid fan of the Atlanta Braves.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Peachtree City United Methodist Church.
Higgins Funeral Home Hillcrest Chapel is honored to serve the family of Mr. Gillaspie, please visit www.hillcrestchapelcares.com to share your memories or leave a condolence message.