Born in 1890 in Hollywood, Alabama, Mary Celesta
Johnson was the daughter of Sara Adeline Washington and Marion Lorenzo Johnson.
She entered Alabama College at the age of 15 and became a teacher. She married
George Irving Weatherly, a banker, in 1911. They had three children; a daughter
who became a teacher, a son who became a physician, and an adopted son who
became a businessman.
After starting her family, Weatherly returned to
teaching for seven years during the shortage of qualified teachers caused by
the Depression. After her husband's death in 1956 she was also a businesswoman
who owned and operated two farms. She was named Woman of the Year by the local
Business and Professional Women's Club in 1961.
A woman of many interests and accomplishments,
two of her most notable successes were the founding of the DeKalb County
Library (during the Depression year of 1930), and the establishment of the
first local literacy program (for which she served as teacher) in 1961. A
popular speaker in the area, Weatherly made 15 speeches in 1961 alone. She was
the first woman to serve on the DeKalb County Board of Education. At the age of
65, she learned to drive so she could go to Montgomery whenever she pleased to
get books from the Alabama Library Service for the DeKalb County
In 1961, Fort Payne's Mary Celesta Johnson
Weatherly, Alabama's Mother of the Year, was sent to New York to compete for
American Mother of the Year. Popular opinion was that the honor would go to
Clara S. Glenn, mother of John Glenn, the astronaut who electrified the world
by successfully orbiting the earth three times the previous February. Mrs.
Weatherly was chosen for this distinction, the only woman in Alabama to receive
this award to date.
Weatherly was a tireless worker for the American
Red Cross, the Heart Fund, and the United Givers Fund. A charter member of the
Fort Payne Woman's Club, she also belonged to the Federation of Women's Clubs,
the Alabama Literacy Council, Delta Kappa Gamma, the Women's Temperance Union,
Landmarks of DeKalb County, and the United Daughters of the
Mrs. Weatherly left a legacy of service to the
First Baptist Church of Fort Payne. In fact, Sunday School Classes and Mission
Groups are named for her. She taught various Sunday School classes and often
had perfect attendance for the year. She was youth leader for five years and
served as Royal Ambassador Leader for 25 years. She taught mission studies, led
the Week of Prayer program, served as president of the Woman's Missionary
Union, and served on the church's pulpit committee.
Mrs. Weatherly died at her home in 1976 at the
age of 85.