Chebie Ann Gaines Bateman, who oversaw the transformation of the Lowndes County Public Library into a civic centerpiece, died Dec. 10 at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle in Columbus. She was 83.
Services [were] held at Main Street Presbyterian Church, 701 Main St., in Columbus at 2 p.m..
Bateman, a Columbus native, began her directorship in 1961, with the library housed in a home behind St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The library was later moved to the Lee High School band building, located behind the current facility. It moved to its present two-story headquarters, named in her honor, in April 1972. Bateman retired Dec. 31, 2004.
“I knew Chebie; she was still coming to directors’ meetings when I became a Mississippi library director,” said Alice Shands, current director of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library. “She fought for libraries and set the standards for libraries in the state. She has been an inspiration to all directors.”
Bateman was a graduate of S.D. Lee High School, Mississippi State College for Women, and held a master’s degree in library science from Columbia University. She was an avid supporter of the Lowndes County Society for the Preservation of Antiquities and The Pioneer Society. She directed the establishment of the local history department of the library, the Billups-Garth Archives and the Marion Stark Gaines Archives of records and photographs.
George Hazard Jr., Bateman’s cousin, said, “Building the new library called on all Chebie’s skills. Two bond issues failed, but Chebie said, ‘This is what I was put here to do’ and kept pushing. She and the civic and governmental leaders, along with the Appalachian Regional Commission, finally got it done.”
“She was a real fine lady, in the highest sense of being a lady. Her heart was in the library 100 percent,” said Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders, whose late father served on the library board. “In my specific dealings with her, she would come to the board of supervisors to request money for the library. She was tenacious in her love for it.”
Bateman was a life member of Junior Auxiliary of Columbus and the Columbus Homeowners Association. She was a member of Main Street Presbyterian Church and served on the board of the Frank P. Phillips Foundation and was a member of the Columbus Garden Club and the Cherokee Garden Club. She was queen of the Columbus Pilgrimage Ball in 1957 and for many years opened her own home, Errolton, for the Pilgrimage.
Her civic efforts earned her the Book of Golden Deeds Award from the Columbus Exchange Club in 1987.
Bateman was married to the late Douglas Bateman Jr. She is survived by her children, Thomas Douglas Bateman III of Columbus, Margaret Gaines Gaskin of Columbus, and Anne Hay Coggins of Charlotte, N.C. She is also survived by seven grandchildren.
Pallbearers [were] John Beard, David Beard, John Davis, John Bailey Hardy, George Hazard Jr., and the Rev. William Vaughan. Honorary pallbearers [were] members of the Friends of the Library and the present and former employees of the library.
Memorials may be made to the Local History Department of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, 314 Seventh St. N., Columbus, MS 39701, or to Main Street Presbyterian Church, 701 Main St., Columbus, MS 39701.
[Photographs are from the Billups-Garth Archives in the Local History Room at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library]