Miss Georgia

On the Friday before Memorial Day, Kayanne Shoeffner Massey, WC ’63, rose abruptly from a shaded picnic table she and her husband, Abit, had been chatting with friends. “I have to go,” she says matter-of-factly, “My grandson is in a coma and I have to look in on him.”

As the saying goes, Chandler Massey was not really a comatose patient; he just played one on TV as the two-time Emmy-winning heartthrob on the long-running soap opera Days of Our Lives. Kayanne never misses the show and, even though Chandler is “just lying there,” the ever-doting grandmother insists the young actor just lies there better than any other actor ever has or ever will.

That’s the way she is with all her children and all their children, says her son and Chandler’s father, Lewis, former Georgia secretary of state and one-time gubernatorial candidate: involved, enthusiastic, supportive and always there. “She was an amazing mother and continues to be devoted to her children and grandchildren,” says daughter Camille, global strategy and programs vice president for the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. When Camille adopted her own daughter from China 11 years ago, she recalls confessing some insecurity to Kayanne “because you set such a high standard as a parent” that she didn’t think she could measure up. “’You will be a different kind of parent,’ [Kayanne] said. ‘You will be good in your own way.’”

Kay Ann MasseyWhen Kayanne moved to Gainesville in 1961, the Calhoun, Ga., native already had served her year as “Miss Georgia,” the title she won in 1959 as a freshman at Agnes Scott College. Atlanta native Bert Parks put the “Miss America” crown that year on the head of Mississippian Mary Ann Mobley, however, so when Kayanne started her sophomore year at Brenau, she was also “Mrs. Massey.” One stern, stuffy professor, persistently called her “Miss Massey” until, visibly pregnant with Lewis, the then-junior mustered courage to correct him. Kayanne graduated summa cum laude with an education degree and a member of Chi Omega 
and Mensa.

‘Brenau has been a very big part of my life,” she says. “I have really enjoyed watching what it has become over the years. It has so much more to offer now.”

Gainesville High School named her an honorary graduate in 2012 because of her and Abit’s community service, work to improve libraries and support for the school, particularly its vaunted drama program and storied sports programs.

9 Responses to “Miss Georgia”
  1. Jan Poole says:

    My mother named my sister Kayanne. She got the name from Mrs. Massey. Great family!!
    From Jan Bradford Poole.

  2. Leah Coker says:

    Beautiful inside and out!

  3. havalyn bennett says:

    WOW<WOW<WOW I do believe you are more beautiful now than years ago, if that’s possible! You and Abit have meant soooo much to our community and state and I’m honored that our lives have crossed paths. (I’m not on facebook, but Randy let me say a few words.) Birdie and I and 3 more college gals are heading to Yellowstone and Jackson Hole this Fri. ….. Hope to see you soon! Love, Haavalyn

  4. Bethany Magnus says:

    One of the most precious people on earth! I cannot imagine the FBC nursery without Mrs. Massey there to rock our babies!

  5. J Jackson says:

    What a wonderful lady!

  6. Nairika Cornett says:

    I adore Abit and Kayanne. They have been wonderful to me ever since our paths crossed when I first moved her from India. Blessed to know them

  7. Sandra Passmore says:

    Abit and Kayanne will always be permeant treasures in a disposable ….

  8. Terri Armour says:

    I just love this lady!! She is so very beautiful both inside and out!

  9. Jim Parkman says:

    How nice to see those deserved tributes come your way. As always, you are one of my favorites!

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