UGA’s Grady College honors the late R.L. VanLandingham

A Grady County native was among 10 distinguished graduates of the University of Georgia’s Grady College recognized during a special tribute ceremony in Athens.
Robert VanLandingham, a longtime staff writer and associate editor of The Cairo Messenger, was inducted posthumously into the Fellowship’s Sanford Circle. The Sanford Circle was created to honor absent friends of Grady College “whose achievement and generosity of spirit remain with us,” said Grady College Dean, and Cairo native, E. Culpepper Clark, according to an online article by Sherrie Whaley of UGA.
The Grady Fellowship was created in 2008 to recognize those “whose lives and careers lend measurably to the reputation Grady College enjoys. Its newest Fellows were selected for their influence, achievements and service to the media professions,” Whaley states.
Of VanLandingham, Whaley writes, ” Grady County native Robert VanLandingham (ABJ ’42) joined the U.S. Coast Guard after graduating from Grady College, serving in the Southwest Pacific. After a stint as a principal and seventh grade teacher, the Phi Beta Kappa graduate joined his family in operation of R.R. VanLandingham Inc., the local dealership for Pontiac cars, International trucks and Farmall tractors. After the dealership closed in 1982, he returned to his first love, journalism, and became staff writer for ‘The Cairo Messenger’ and mentor for all associated with it. He retired in 2002. The civic and community leader also served as a Cairo City Councilman for 16 years, member of the Grady County Board of Education for 14 years and member and chairman of the Grady County Hospital Authority for 20 years.”
Among the 250 people attending the Nov. 17 ceremony held in the Mahler Auditorium at UGA’s Center for Continuing Education, were several relatives of Mr. VanLandingham including his son, Cairo Mayor Richard VanLandingham and his wife, Teresa; his sisters Mrs. Mabel Kral and Mrs. Beth Wight, both of Cairo; his niece, Sally Wight Murphy; granddaughter Mary Beth VanLandingham Sharp and her husband, Kevin Sharp; and Cairo native Lewis Gainey, legendary track and field coach for UGA, and his wife, Delois Gainey.
Two other gentlemen inducted posthumously were legendary Atlanta sports writer Jesse Outlar and screenwriter, producer and motion picture executive Lamar Trotti. The 2011 class of Grady Fellows was rounded out by David Adelman, U.S. ambassador to Singapore; Ed Bastian, president of Delta Air Lines; Conrad Fink, professor of journalism; Julie Moran, broadcaster; Arnold Punaro, Punaro Group CEO of Virginia; Bill Simpson, former UGA public relations director; and Julie Winskie, global president of Porter Novelli in New York City.

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