Pat Ausmus was known for saying “Chatsworth is the next closest place to heaven.”
“She was really proud of Chatsworth,” said Justin Stinnett, who worked alongside Ausmus as assistant branch manager of the Chatsworth-Murray County Library where Ausmus was branch manager.
Ausmus, 77, died Sunday night after a battle with liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer, said her daughter Dianne Davis. Ausmus retired as branch manager on June 30 after about 18 years in the position.
Through her years at the library, volunteering with the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society and helping with several city projects, it was obvious Ausmus loved her hometown, family and friends said. She pushed people around her to continue improving the community she loved so dearly and often reminded residents they should be thankful to live in Chatsworth, they added.
“She expected perfection from her children and wouldn’t take no for an answer,” said Davis, who worked at the library with her mother. “She got me as involved in the genealogy as she could. She would sit down with me and tell me how someone was related to someone else. If someone would call wanting a picture rounded up, she would have one by the end of the day. She would know who to call and who to get it from.”
Ausmus, a 1954 graduate of Murray County High School, worked in the textile industry and had retired. But soon after, the position at the library came open.
“When that job came open she thought, ‘Here’s something I can do that I’m going to love,’” Davis said.
Tim Howard, who served on the library board for 16 years, said Ausmus was the perfect person for the job.
“She was the ideal person for it because she had lived in Chatsworth so long and had seen the library in all its incarnations, and most of all, she knew lots of people and could make the contacts,” he said.
Under Ausmus, the library had two expansions funded through a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and began receiving funds through the cities of Chatsworth and Eton and also Murray County. Ausmus saw the library had a need for a genealogy room, and made sure she received funds through the SPLOST and through donations for materials.
“It has certainly met a need,” he said. “It has given visitors to Murray County from other states a place to go and make contacts to the right people here. Pat knew lots of folks ... If they were looking for a certain family, Pat would say ‘so and so is related to them.’ She would call and put them in contact with one another. It was her local ties and knowledge and expertise that made people leave Murray County with a good impression.”
Knowing Ausmus would be his boss is why Stinnett went to work at the library.
“She’s the one that made this library what it is,” Stinnett said. “People should know they have the library they do because of Pat.”
Ausmus was a “respected leader” in the community, said Murray County sole commissioner Brittany Pittman.
“She was very passionate about her work at the library and those who visited it,” she said. “She saw the library through two expansions and spearheaded many programs to help make the library what it is today. Pat loved her community and it was demonstrated with all that she did. My thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.”
Ausmus was instrumental in saving and renovating the original Chatsworth depot, which was built in 1906. She and her husband Ralph served as co-chairs on the depot’s committee and worked to open the depot for public use for the city’s centennial in 2006. They also worked to begin an annual art show featuring local artists each October. She was responsible for adding a caboose to the property.
Emily Cogburn worked with her longtime friend on the projects.
“We were the best of friends,” Cogburn said. “The first thing was, they said if they let us have it, it had to be moved. People were saying it couldn’t be moved. That was like waving a red flag in front of us. It was moved.... She was just like me. Once she got involved in antiques, history and genealogy there was no turning back.”
Ausmus became involved in the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society in the 1980s as members were finishing up work on the county’s heritage book, said Howard, a longtime member of the historical society and the county’s historian.
“She quickly made a big point of saying the history book would be available at Pat’s Antiques (which she owned with her husband downtown),” he said. “Having it available somewhere in town certainly made us sell a whole lot more copies. You could always get one there. Since we didn’t have a full-time presence in Chatsworth like (Crown Garden & Archives) in Dalton, they became our main contact people for the historical society.”
The Ausmuses joined the Wright Hotel committee, which she still served on at the time of her death.
“She pitched in getting stuff done,” Howard said. “She was not afraid to tell others what they needed to do to help us... She could cultivate relationships at the appropriate time to help the cause. It takes somebody who has the knowledge. You can talk networking all you want, but it takes someone picking up the phone saying, ‘Your dad worked in the talc mines. See if you can find a picture and bring it by for us to scan and hang in the depot.’ And she could do that.”
Ausmus was on the Downtown Development Committee for many years. The committee was responsible for applying for and using grants on projects in the city, such as putting in brick sidewalks and street lamps. The committee also worked to restore the section house in the city park. Ausmus donated and loaned several pieces of furniture to the house.
“She loved her community,” Howard said. “She knew people and she always had a plan. She was one of a kind for sure.”
Funeral services are Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Chapel of Peeples Funeral Home & Crematory of Chatsworth. The family will receive friends today from 5 to 8 p.m. and Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the funeral home.