By Maria Saporta
Forget my journalistic objectivity. I must admit that I’m in awe of Beverly Scott, MARTA’s general manager.
Here is a woman with unlimited energy and a generosity of spirit who has been able to withstand all kind of attacks, criticisms and prejudices with a smile and an open mind.
When some in the region say that MARTA will never be accepted throughout metro Atlanta, Scott will say we should not get hung up on names, titles and past preconceptions. She has welcomed ideas on how one could create a truly regional transit system, whether it would be called MARTA or not.
In just three years, Scott has lived through all the ups and downs of the Georgia General Assembly as transportation bills died or were amended in a way that was punitive to MARTA.
And yet, Scott never has lost her sense of optimism that one day metro Atlanta will figure it out.
She was all smiles a week ago Wednesday when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood came to Atlanta to formally announce a $47.6 million grant to build a streetcar.
When Scott was introduced by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, he told her: “Thank you for finding a way to get in the way. You kept the fire burning, and I just want to say thank you.”
And after she went up to the podium, she said: “At times like this, I always remember what my grandmother would tell me: ‘Give me my roses when I can smell them.’”
Those words resonated with me even more when I found out that Beverly Scott’s husband — Arthur Scott — passed away that very evening.
Despite seeing MARTA’s Scott on at least a weekly basis, I had not realized that her husband, 61, had suffered a stroke a month before he died. It’s just like Scott to not share her troubles and fears with those around her.
Even during the service at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Boulevard (which is another wonderful story), Scott was a model of strength — accepting hugs, wiping away tears while smiling to those who were there to share their condolences.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Arthur Scott. She once told me that her husband didn’t spend lots of time in her transit world. But after the service, I felt as though I had gotten to know him as someone who had a sparkle in his eyes. He was someone who loved to cook and feed those around him — not just to satisfy a hunger in their stomachs but in their hearts.
It made me realize that one of the sources of Beverly Scott’s bottomless energy had been her husband and his love for her.
The program at the service said that “in recognition of Mr. Scott’s love of cooking for and feeding others, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to: the Atlanta Community Food Bank at 732 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd. N.W., Atlanta, 30318; or Hosea Feeds the Hungry and Homeless at P.O. Box 4672, Atlanta, 30302-4672.
So this is a story to express my condolences as well as my admiration for Beverly Scott — for who she is inside and out.