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Sybil Bourne McNeil
September 16, 1946 ~ September 7, 2023 (age 76) 76 Years Old
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Sybil Bourne McNeil died peacefully surrounded by family on September 7, 2023, in Macon, Georgia. Born on September 16,1946, Sybil grew up in Columbia, Mississippi, as the middle child to the late E L Bourne and Bessie Chance Smith. After graduating from Columbia High School, she pursued her bachelor’s degree from Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in social studies and minors in English and history. An avid lover of books, her favorite being The Grapes of Wrath, Sybil always kept the dream of one day becoming a librarian.
After marrying, Sybil raised her family in Greenville, Mississippi, where she was actively involved in Trinity United Methodist Church (and dubbed “the church lady” by her children) as well as the greater Greenville community. She gave her time so selflessly that when her daughter was completing her own college application, Sarah Katherine wrote “Professional Volunteer” on the line for “Mother’s Occupation.”
When circumstances moved her from the Mississippi Delta back to her hometown of Columbia, Sybil began pursuing her Master of Library and Information Science degree at the University of Southern Mississippi to accomplish her long-time goal of becoming a librarian and archivist. Her work with the Kay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival and archival book and document restoration in post-Katrina New Orleans were her favorite projects during her time in graduate school. Upon graduating, Sybil spent the next decade at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. At Wesleyan, she served as the Director of the Willett Library, becoming a leader and friend to the faculty and students. She will be fondly remembered for caring for Wesleyan’s library cats, Squeakers and Libris.
After retiring from Wesleyan College, Sybil dedicated time volunteering and advocating for causes in Georgia about which she was passionate. She loved to travel and had the unique opportunity to study abroad in the United Kingdom touring libraries, archives and special collections in England, Scotland, and Ireland. During one trip to Washington, D.C., Sybil gained access to the original card catalog at the Library of Congress where she went straight to the S’s and pulled the card for John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Her children and grandchildren always came first. Her love for them was endless. During her retirement, Sybil made frequent extended trips to Bethesda, Maryland, to be with her two young grandsons, Alistair and Chance. Grammie always had a new book for the boys, passing down her love of literature and history.
Sybil was strong and ever-persevering. She always believed in and supported her family and loved ones unconditionally. Her love was a palpable force in the life of all paths she crossed. She will be dearly missed.
Sybil was preceded in death by her sisters Martha Ann Bourne and Debra Kay Bourne.
She is survived by her brothers James Truett Bourne (Cheryl), Donald Glynn Bourne (Cindy), and Ronald Lynn Bourne; her children, Brian Patrick Bourne McNeil and Sarah Katherine McNeil Drury (Scott); and her grandchildren, Alistair Scott Drury and Chance McNeil Drury.
A Celebration of Life with family will be held at a later date. Brian McNeil’s church will hold a Memorial Mass on December 8, 2023, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Macon, Georgia.