“Every Year We Lived There, Dixie Manor Got Bigger”

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Dixie ManorBorn and bred in Covington (5th generation), Mr. and Mrs. Billy and Irene Smith had lived in “Dixie Manor,” their beautiful antebellum mansion in Covington (GA), for more than 35 years. They had raised their son Chris and daughter Fleeta there, and had enjoyed living close to both sets of parents and being able to care for them as they were growing older.

However, as Mrs. Smith so pointedly notes: “Every year we lived there, Dixie Manor got bigger. The home demanded a lot of upkeep, and that was a major job. We found that physically, we were not able to keep our beloved garden as immaculate as we always had, but above all, we were concerned about what lay ahead for our children.”

Mr. and Mrs. Smith had experienced how much time and effort was required to take care of their elderly parents who were determined to stay in their original homes. “Even though we were very lucky with our loyal help, we did not want to burden our own children with having to take care of us, so we started early to look for a place where we could age in style and comfort,” according to Mrs. Smith.

“We examined quite a number of retirement communities in the Southeast, but when we saw this beautiful home in this sweet neighborhood in Park Springs (I call it ‘Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood!) we knew we had found the perfect place for us.” The Smith’s moved to Park Springs in the Fall of 2013.

It was not easy to leave their friends and neighbors in Covington, where Mrs. Smith had been a major force in the community. During the past three decades, she had dedicated countless hours to many different organizations and causes.

For instance, she was a charter member and President of the Newton County Historical Society, Vice President of the Oxford Shrine Society and served for 39 years with the Newton DAR. A Master Gardener, she was a member of three garden clubs and held office on the Georgia Board of Garden Clubs, and did we mention her involvement with the Georgia Trust of Historic Preservation? For five years, she worked tirelessly to establish Covington as the sister city to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland – her dedication and contributions to her community and to the people of Georgia are innumerable.

A graduate of Brenau University Women’s College, and President of Brenau’s Alumni Association, she was inducted in the university’s Hall of Fame in 2001 and received the Outstanding Alumni Award and Community Service Award.

In her spare (!) time, Mrs. Smith, a renowned and gracious hostess and outstanding cook, penned three cookbooks and appeared on a variety of national TV cooking shows, and also hosted her own. “I love to entertain and I love to plan parties and events,” she says. Already, she hosted a sightseeing tour of her beloved Covington for 22 Park Springs Members in the spring.

Mr. Smith still works full time with their son in the family business, Newton Electric, with offices in Covington and McDonough. “Even though we are both still in our early ‘70s, we decided that it was better to move now to Park Springs, where there are so many services available to you but where you can live independently in your own beautiful home,” explains Mrs. Smith.

“I feel strongly that it is better to be here when you need it, rather than needing it and it not be there – or be limited in your choices to any place where there’s a bed.”

Since moving to Park Springs, Mrs. Smith has joined an Art Class, taken up water aerobics and acted as one of the hosts of Trivia night. She’s already been part of the Liars’ Club Panel as well. In addition, she has stayed at Cobblestone Health Center to recuperate from knee surgery, so she definitely has experienced many different sides of Park Springs in just the first six months here.

According to Mrs. Smith, one of the nicest surprises about Park Springs has been the warm welcome the Smith family has received – from the friendly and professional staff who greeted them by name within a week of moving to the community, to many invitations for dinner and socializing by Members who’d moved here earlier.

“We’ve found the perfect home for us, and we look forward to many more happy years in this resort-style community,” she says. “Every day, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!”


  1. joan benson on June 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm said:

    The Smiths have quickly become wonderful neighbors to the members at Park Springs. Both have infectious smiles and warm hellos for everyone they see.w elcome to you both! Joan Benson

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