Elkin Goddard Alston

4 April, 19402 May, 2021

Elkin Goddard Alston, Atlanta philanthropist, died on May 2, 2021

Elkin Goddard Alston, who devoted much of her life to championing and supporting social, cultural and political causes in Atlanta, died Sunday at Emory University Hospital. She was 81.

Elkin was born in the same hospital on April 4, 1940, to Elkin Goddard Alston and Philip Henry Alston, Jr. She attended E. Rivers Elementary School, The Washington Seminary (Atlanta), The Westminster Schools, Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Md., and Mt. Vernon Junior College in Washington, D.C.. She loved taking the train from Atlanta to Garrison Forest with her friend, Fontaine Draper nee Yearly. They shared many adventures, including a post-graduation trip to Europe, and they remained close friends for life.

Elegant, charming, steadfast, and generous beyond measure, Elkin cherished her family, friends, and fellow lovers of gardening and art. After school, she worked at the Trust Company, where she enjoyed being part of the business world. Later she worked with Draper at The Lovett School, where her knowledge of Atlanta and her extensive network of contacts enabled her to be a great asset to their development team.

Elkin loved all things Atlanta, including St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Coca-Cola, the Braves, the Varsity, and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. A perfect evening for her would include watching the Braves while drinking a Coca-Cola over lots of ice and eating a grilled hot dog smothered with chopped onion and mustard.

As a member of Jimmy Carter’s “Peanut Brigade,” Elkin helped the Georgia governor win the presidency in 1976 by volunteering in New Hampshire and New Mexico. She loved meeting people on the campaign trail, trudging through banks of snow in New Hampshire during the days, and hand-writing notes to those she had met each night. After Carter’s victory, she maintained a friendship with him and his wife Rosalynn. Whenever she spoke about “The President,” or “My President,” she was referring to President Carter.

An expert gardener, she loved spending time in her courtyard garden ensuring every plant was perfectly placed, cared for and pruned. This labor of love manifested in the displays she assembled for her guests to enjoy. She loved to regale her guests with the history of her garden’s plants, many of which were gifts from friends and family.

During her extensive travels, she collected art, which she displayed in her homes in the Atlanta neighborhood of Ansley Park and Sea Island, Georgia. Frequent visits to New York City would invariably include visits to museums, nights at the Metropolitan Opera and shopping. She also enjoyed the great outdoors, taking annual trips to Montana to fly-fish with friends. An interior designer, she turned her houses into warm, unique homes that reflected her individuality and fostered engaging and interesting conversation. She had a gift for talk that immediately made others feel welcome and connected to her.

Elkin’s parents and grandparents were members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Her mother and father met at St. Luke’s, where they sat in neighboring pews. She too was a staunch member, attending the 8 a.m. services regularly. She served as the chairperson for the John N. Goddard Foundation Inc., president of the Mimosa Garden Club, and on the board of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Foundation. Elkin gave generously to many institutions, including the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA), the Winship Cancer institute of Emory University, the Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. She was also a member of the Forward Arts Foundation, the Piedmont Driving Club and the Sea Island Club.

Elkin married Colony Square developer James Cushman, Sr.. They raised two children, and entertained countless friends and family at Millarden Farm, the family owned in Woodbury, Ga., in the 1970's. She loved spending time with her children and grandchildren, attending their baseball games, ballet recitals, orchestra performances, and plays, and taking them and their friends to the beach and shopping. She was always looking for ways to give to others, sharing tickets to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and the Atlanta History Center with others.

Elkin is survived by her son, Jimmy Cushman, Jr., his wife, Jackie, and their children, Maggie and Robert; and daughter, Elkin Cushman Taylor, her husband, Roger, and their children, Jack and William; and Roger’s children, Lauren and Megan. She is also survived by her brother, Jimmy Alston, his wife Gayle, their three children, John Alston, his wife Terri, and their children, Philip and Jack; Edith Alston McDonnell, her husband Sean, and their children, Julia and May; Jennifer Alston Euart and her husband Pat, and their children, Alston, Lucy, Edith and Emily. She is also survived by a multitude of extended family members.

The family is forever grateful to Era Knight and Florissa Maher for their care and assistance for Elkin throughout her life.

She will be laid to rest in a private service at St Luke’s. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St Luke’s Episcopal Church or the Atlanta Botanical Garden.


  • St Luke’s Episcopal Church
  • Atlanta Botanical Garden


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Elkin Goddard Alston

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Dot Padgett

5 May 2021

Elkin was a real trouper as a member of the Carter "Peanut Brigade". I campaigned with her in the snow and ice and in other important campaign states.
She also displayed true Southern hospitality in every aspect of her life.
Her family were pioneers in the early development of Atlanta. She carried out their traditions in her every day life.