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Thursday, October 20, 2022
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Friday, October 21, 2022
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Opal Rogers Cannon passed away peacefully on October 7, 2022, in Americus, GA, at Magnolia Manor Nursing Center. Visitation will be Thursday, October 20, 2022, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Mathews Funeral Home, 3206 Gillionville Road, Albany, GA. Funeral services will be held Friday, October 21, 2022, at Leesburg United Methodist Church at 11:00 a.m., and a private interment will follow the service for the family of Mrs. Cannon.
Born and raised in Ephesus, GA, Mrs. Cannon was one of fourteen children of Frank and Tessie Rogers. She graduated from Centralhatchee High School in Heard County in 1944 before attending West Georgia College in Carrollton, GA. After attending the University of Georgia during her Junior and Senior years, she received a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics and remained a lifelong “Bulldog” fan. Mrs. Cannon came to Leesburg, GA, to teach Home Economics at Lee County High School. Mrs. Cannon met and married the love of her life, Edward Cannon, in Leesburg in 1951 while teaching. They started a family, and Mrs. Cannon devoted much of her time to raising the children, helping Edward at the hardware store, Farmers Exchange, and running the Gift Shop next door with Bertha Cannon.
When Edward unexpectedly passed away in 1970 at the early age of 60, Mrs. Cannon returned to teaching Home Economics but began teaching at the elementary school level after obtaining her Masters Degree in Education from Georgia Southwestern College. After receiving her Educational Specialist degree in Educational Supervision and Administration from Valdosta State College, she became the Principal of Lee County Elementary School. Later, she was named the first Principal of the new Lee County Primary School.
Mrs. Cannon received numerous honors while leading schools in Lee County, including the Georgia School of Excellence award for Lee County Elementary, the Outstanding Educator in Georgia by the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders in 1987, a National Distinguished Principal in 1989 by the National Association of Elementary School Principal. While she was principal, Lee County Primary School was named a National School of Excellence. She held office in numerous educational associations on the state level and was State President of the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals 1987-88.
She retired in 1990 to enjoy her grandchildren, go to the mountains, paint, and serve her church and community. As she once said, “I stay busy now, but I’m doing what I want to do, not what I have to do.” She was an avid Atlanta Braves fan but also became a fan of the San Francisco Giants once Lee County native Buster Posey joined the team. Mrs. Cannon was one of Luke Bryan’s biggest fans, having been his Principal in elementary school. She was proud of his success but prouder of his faith and character, and that he always claimed Leesburg home.
Mrs. Cannon was an active member of Leesburg United Methodist, teaching a youth Sunday School class in the 1950s and an Adult Sunday School Class, named in her honor, for many years. She was passionate about preserving and protecting the Railroad Depot in Leesburg and led the charge to restore it and obtain placement on the National Register of Historic Places. Mrs. Cannon was a long-time member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and spent years researching and writing her family history. She selflessly gave herself and her talents to so many and expected nothing in return.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, William Edward Cannon, Sr., her brothers, Alvin, Hoyt, George, Frank Junior, Lonnie, Artie, Roy, Paul, Guy, and her sisters, Lenora Cammon, Colie Campbell, Parrie Reimer, and Reba Sims.
Survivors include her children, Bill (Dawn) Cannon of Waynesville, NC, Cynthia (Randy) Merchant of Albany, GA; four grandchildren, Rev. Jenny Cannon (Rev. Kirkland Reynolds) of Rochester, MN, Ned (Sarah) Cannon of Lake Oswego, OR, Martin Hunkele of Albany, GA, Lindsey (Jesse) Middlebrooks of Leesburg, GA, and seven great-grandchildren Molly and Nolan Reynolds, Daniel and Luke Middlebrooks, James and Nat Cannon, and Flynn Hunkele.
In lieu of flowers, those desiring may make memorial donations in memory of Mrs. Opal Cannon to The League of the Good Samaritan at Magnolia Manor, 2001 S Lee Street, Americus, GA 31709, or the Leesburg United Methodist Church Building Fund at 117 Starkville Ave., Leesburg, GA 31763.