Margalena “Margie” Grace Mixson passed away peacefully on December27, 2023, at Pruitt Health Care in Panama City, Florida. A graveside service was held Sunday, December 31, 2023, at 1:00 P.M. CT at Marvin Chapel Cemetery, Graceville, Florida. She is predeceased by her husband, Governor John Wayne Mixson.
She was born July 12, 1927, in Graceville, Florida, to Wilkie Bowen Grace and George Jefferson Grace, their only child. She was the granddaughter of the founder of Graceville, Jefferson Grace. Her parents lived in Marianna and when Margie was two years old they moved to Graceville where she was promptly enrolled in the Cradle Roll class of the First United Methodist Church of Graceville, then on Brown Street. At the age of eight, she joined the church, following the tradition of her ancestors. In 1932, she stood on the steps of that church watching the bishops dedicating the building. In later life, while she and her husband Wayne lived in Tallahassee, Florida, they were members of the St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. Her church and faith were always an integral part of her life.
Margie attended school in Graceville, graduating in 1944 as Valedictorian of her class. She graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree and from the University of Florida with a master’s degree. She was a member of Kappa Delta Pi, an honorary education fraternity and Delta Zeta, a social sorority.
During her senior year at Florida State University, Margie married John Wayne Mixson December 27, 1947, at the First United Methodist Church of Graceville. Years before, Wayne once visited Graceville High School and saw Margie on campus, and asked who she was, thinking she was a young teacher. She was a student. He was smitten. Their loving relationship lasted 72 years.
They lived briefly in Graceville with Margie teaching high school English. The couple left in 1955, with Wayne’s various work and Margie taught high school in Winter Park, Williston, and Gainesville. Eventually, the couple returned to live in Marianna, Florida where Margie began teaching English at Chipola Junior College (Chipola College). She is always fondly remembered with love by many students.
In 1967, Wayne won election to the House of Representatives and began his public service career. In 1978, he ran for Lieutenant Governor on a ticket with Bob Graham. In 1982, Graham and Mixson were reelected, the first of Florida’s lieutenant governors to be elected to consecutive terms. On January 3, 1987, Mixson became Florida’s 19th Governor when Governor Graham took office as United States Senator. Margie became The First Lady. Throughout Wayne’s public service Margie was always by his side with her easy grace and Southern charm, supporting him. The couple traveled extensively throughout the world, met seven presidents of the United States while maintaining an 800-acre ranch in Campbellton, Florida.
Drawing from material written by her father, Grace Notes, Margie spoke about the history of Graceville church at the 1980 Centennial Celebration and at the 1991 church homecoming. She has been the speaker at several community events about the history of Graceville. Her presentations were not only informative but also entertaining.
Throughout her life and prestigious career, Margie’s personality was a magnet that drew people to feel comfortable and engaged with her. She had many friends and enjoyed traveling throughout the world with them. She was an enthusiastic bridge player. As an avid reader, she was a member of several book clubs and generous in her donations to help others. Margie drew strength and enjoyment from working in her yard with her flowers throughout her life, it was always the simple, unpretentious, and modest things that brought her joy.
Donations in her memory may be made to the First United Methodist Church of Graceville.