Katharine Phinizy Mackie
Katharine Phinizy Mackie (Mrs. Osborne S. Mackie) was born in Augusta on January 5, 1930, the second child and only daughter of Dr. Irvine Phinizy (Internal Medicine), a distinguished general practitioner beloved by both the white and black communities, and Katharine “Kitty” Church Hagler Phinizy, whose father, John C. Hagler, was one of the founders of the brick making industry in Augusta. Katharine was the three times great-granddaughter of Ferdinand Phinizy, a native of Parma, Italy, who fought in the French Army during the Revolutionary War, settled as a planter in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, and moved with his son John Phinizy to Augusta in 1800 to found a highly successful cotton exporting business. Katharine’s great-great grandfather, John Phinizy, later became Mayor of Augusta and in 1861, as a representative of Richmond County, was a signatory of Georgia’s Declaration of Secession, although he spoke vehemently against it. Katharine attended Tubman High School for girls, and in 1947, like her mother before her, graduated as valedictorian. She also followed her mother’s footsteps to Sweet Briar College in Amherst, Virginia, where she earned a BA degree in history in 1951 and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Katharine studied in Paris during the academic year 1949-50, the inaugural year of the highly regarded Sweet Briar Junior Year Abroad program. Although Katharine thought herself well prepared for her year in France, it was soon revealed that she spoke French in a heavy Southern accent, almost unintelligible to the French. This came as a great surprise to Katharine, as her French professor at Sweet Briar spoke with exactly the same accent. However, Katharine soon adjusted and passed a delightful and unforgettable year, forming friendships with fellow students and native French that lasted her lifetime. In 1952, Katharine married Osborne S. Mackie, a native of Fair Hill, Maryland, who had come to Augusta as an employee of the Du Pont Company. They had four children. Although Katharine expected to spend all her days in Augusta as her family had before her, her husband was transferred to Dordrecht, Holland, in December 1962. The Mackies set sail for Rotterdam from New York Harbor and after an exceedingly stormy passage arrived in Holland during one of the coldest winters on record. The country was covered in deep snow and the canals were frozen solid and remained so for three months. The Mackies moved into a row house in the old Dutch city; the children learned to skate right away; while Katharine bought a bicycle and took Dutch lessons—quite a change from life in Augusta. Later the Mackies moved to Londonderry in Northern Ireland. Life in Europe was a great experience for all the family and much time was spent travelling, particularly in France, where Katharine’s experience as a college student had laid the groundwork for extensive exploration. Osborne’s love of fine food took the family to remarkable hotels and restaurants. If conversation happened to lag during the many road trips, a return to high spirits was always guaranteed if Katharine could be persuaded to give a rousing rendition of the school song of her alma mater, “Sweet Briar, Sweet Briar, Flower Fair.” The Mackies returned to the States in 1969 and then lived for many years in Victoria, Texas, a beautiful and old formerly Mexican city, surrounded by rolling ranchland. During that time Katharine took up teaching, for which she was well prepared. The Mackies retired to Augusta to their house on Kings Way to be near to Katharine’s mother. Sadly Katharine’s mother and husband died within a few days of each other in 1986. However, the presence of numerous lifelong friends and the ability and desire to make new friends, made Katharine’s long widowhood a happy one. She was a keen and skilled bridge player and was an active member of many organizations. As a young woman Katharine had been heavily involved in the Junior League. History, historic preservation and gardens were her chief interests later in life. To name but a few memberships, she was a past chairman of the Augusta Town Committee of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Georgia, a past president of the Sandhills Garden Club, and a member of the Sundial Garden Club. Above all, Katharine was kind, generous and vivacious, with an extraordinary zest for life. In her later years, she moved to Brandon Wilde, the senior living community just outside Augusta in Evans. There Katharine died peacefully in her sleep on the morning of May 29. She is survived by four children, Osborne Phinizy Mackie of Alexandria, Virginia; Katharine Church Mackie of Conyers, Georgia; Franklin Richard Mackie of Augusta; Margaret Mackie Wimberly (Mrs. Clayton B. Wimberly) of Rome, Georgia; and their spouses; as well as seven grandchildren, Franklin, Elizabeth, Lydia and Susan Mackie; Phinizy and Clay Wimberly; and Lia Mackie; and one great-granddaughter, Isabella Mackie. Katharine was a parishioner of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Augusta.
A memorial service will be held for Katharine at St. Paul’s on Saturday, June 29 at 11 AM. In lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Katharine Phinizy Mackie may be given to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Augusta, or Sweet Briar College.