UNION CITY - Grace Evelyn Shields Duke, 90, formerly of Jefferson, went home to be with our Lord on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.
Grace was born November 20, 1921, the daughter of the late R.H. Shields and Ola Grace Freeman Shields. She was preceded in death by her husband, David Hillier Duke, Jr.; a sister, Louise Shields; and son-in-law, Frank Gilbert.
Survivors include her daughter, Joyce Duke Gilbert, Jefferson; son and daughter-in-law, Hillier and Ruby Duke, Cookeville, Tenn.; son Tony Duke, Newnan; eight grandchildren, Keith Gilbert, Karyn and Keith Wilburn, Bob Duke, Greg Duke, Michael Duke, John Michael Duke, Laura Lea Duke and Cheyenne Duke; and six great-grandchildren, Shane and Erin Wilburn, Brannan Wilburn and fiancé Tara Waller, Brantley Gilbert, Kolby Gilbert, Chelsea Duke and Dylan Duke; and the many children of Christian City whose lives she touched.
In August of 1970, Grace moved to Christian City where she served as house parent to 156 children who affectionately named her "Mama Grace." There are many beautiful testimonies from them as she was a Godly woman and helped change the lives of those she raised. After 16 years Mama Grace retired, but her work at Christian City was certainly not finished. She then founded Graceland, a thrift store that has raised over $1,000,000 for the children of Christian City.
During her lifetime, Mama Grace received many awards honoring her for her community service and for her efforts to make a difference in the lives of others. Some of those include the 11Alive Community Service Award and the TBS Super Citizen Award, which recognized Mama Grace for over 30 years of service to children in need. She also received the Christian City Humanitarian Award for her faithful stewardship and support of the many ministries of Christian City.
Mama Grace moved to Christian City Convalescent Center in 2005 where she continued to bless the lives of others as she lived out her final days.
A memorial service was held on Saturday, September 8, at the Christian City Welcome Center Chapel in Union City with Chaplain Carl Ryden officiating. Christian City was in charge of the arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Children's Village at Christian City, 7345 Red Oak Road, Union City, GA 30291.
Mama Grace continues to give as she donated her body to Emory University School of Medicine.