Dr. Cecelia Ann Bellcross, passed away unexpectedly on June 8th, 2023, at the age of 63. Her primary residence was Decatur, Georgia, but her heart was at the family’s cabin in Murphy NC. She is survived by her loving husband of 36 years, Wayne, and her children, Connor (31) of Roswell, GA and Aleia (28) of Chicago IL.
Cecelia was born April 4th,1960 in West Seattle, Washington to Dorothy and Luther “Jack” Cross. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Colorado - Denver she taught HS Biology for three years in Ferndale WA. While attending a conference focused on Women in Science her career trajectory changed and her passion became the relatively new field of Genetic Counseling. Following this passion she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she completed her master’s degree in Medical Genetics and became a Board Certified Genetic Counselor. She lived in Madison for the next 20 years, practicing as a clinical genetic counselor. Cecelia had a creative spirit, and she leveraged this skill, beyond the thousands of lives she touched as a clinician, to develop a division of Cancer Genetic Counseling for a local Hospital and HMO. Wanting to further expand her knowledge and impact on this rapidly growing branch of medicine, she earned a PhD in Population Health Sciences at UW-Madison, developing and validating a Breast Cancer Screening tool still used in her profession. From there she was awarded a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the CDC where she spent two years in the division of Population Health Genomics. During her time at the CDC she was asked by a representative of Emory University if she was interested in helping them develop a Graduate Degree Program to train Genetic Counselors. Her background in teaching and research, along with her drive to create, led her to where we are today. Over the past 12 years she rose through the ranks earning a full professorship and in May of 2023, she helped usher across the stage the 10th graduating class of the Emory University Genetic Counseling Training Program. She did not walk this path alone and she would be the first to insist that it was, and continues to be a team effort leading to a nationally recognized program of excellence. Cecelia’s creative energy and dedication to her students has left an incredible legacy. Including the class of 2023, she has seen the graduation of over 100 students, many of whom have become leaders in this vital profession.
Outside of her career, Cecelia was an avid biker, completing many individual rides of over 100 miles. She was always busy, always creating, and was known to bring her knitting with her everywhere to keep her hands busy. She was a mean Cribbage player and Wayne was thankful she let him win occasionally. She loved dancing, hiking, and gardening. Every summer, her delicious homemade pesto stocked the freezers of family and friends, all made from the basil she grew. Above all, though, she loved her family. She was filled with pride as her son Connor, disabled in the eyes of some, differentially abled in the eyes of his family, completed high school and began living semi-independently. And less than a month ago, she was able to celebrate as her daughter completed her PhD from Northwestern University, defending her dissertation in the field of Atmospheric Chemistry. Accomplished in her own right, possibly Cecelia’s greatest gift was in her ability to help others rise to what they are capable of.
Her death is a profound loss to all who knew her, but her legacy lives on in her children as well as the patients and students she has helped throughout her life.
The family welcomes condolences and memories to be shared here. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Cecelia’s memory to the Emory Genetic Counseling Training Program at
A memorial will be held at Emory University in September with details to be provided on the GC Training Program Website as they become available. Family services will be held separately in July and August in Michigan and Seattle, WA.