Shelly Elizabeth Charles
July 8, 1939 – May 4, 2021
Shelly Elizabeth Charles, 81, of Atlanta passed away on May 4th, 2021 after a short illness. The eldest child of Alice Lee (Stone) Charles and James Shelly Charles, Shelly grew up in Atlanta. She nurtured an adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit, an independent mind, and a love of travel throughout her life. A rare and unique individual for her time and location, her husband chose to call her Belle Fleur, and all friends and family agreed that the nickname perfectly suited Shelly’s spirit and demeanor.
Her love of travel and adventure was influenced by her father, a pioneer Eastern Airlines pilot and sail plane enthusiast, who took Shelly to many aviation events. From an early age, Shelly had a passion for horses and became an accomplished equestrienne showing her gated, harness and pleasure horses across the Southeast. At fourteen, she won the amateur five-gaited championship in Florida.
Shelly loved to travel to Europe and around the U.S. During college, she took her first trip to Europe with her late friend Joanne Wash. The two women spent over a year living in Spain and traveling around Europe and North Africa.
From her mother, Shelly inherited a love of fashion, decorating, and music. Her favorite event during her teen years was the annual performance of the New York Metropolitan Opera during their stop in Atlanta. After graduation from the Lovett School and Northside High School, she attended the University of Miami, participating in the Chi Omega sorority before transferring to The Tobe-Coburn School for Fashion Careers in New York City. Returning to Atlanta from Spain and working in New York, Shelly became the assistant to the fashion director and manager of the Teen Board at department store Davison-Paxon (now Macy’s).
Later, she started the catering company Truffles with a friend, which expanded into two gourmet cookware shops and a cooking school in Buckhead. She worked for Turner Broadcasting in the public relations department, championing such initiatives as the CNN Studio Tours and the Turner Stores. Shelly also turned her hobby of photography into a successful weekend business shooting weddings. Later, she joined Ketchum Public Relations as executive assistant to the CEO, and held that position until her retirement.
In December 2003, Shelly met Phil Gowdy at a Christmas party, and the pair discovered that they had grown up in the same neighborhood and both loved to travel. They married two years later on the beach in St. John, USVI and continued traveling together through March 2021. Their favorite and most often visited foreign destination was Paris. They also enjoyed cruises on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2. They also loved spending part of each year at Seagrove Beach in Florida.
Shelly is survived by her husband, Phillip C. Gowdy, her brother Richard Charles and his wife Patty, her former sister-in-law Judy Charles, niece Elizabeth Brigham and nephew Rick Charles. Her half-brother James S. Charles, Jr. pre-deceased her.
The family will have a private service at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta. Memorial donations can be made to the Mark E. Silverman Endowment Chair at Piedmont Healthcare Foundation, 1968 Peachtree Rd., NW, Atlanta, GA 30309.
Private family services will be held.
Shelly Elizabeth Charles
May 11, 2021
I first knew Shelly as my boss at Turner Broadcasting in the early 1990s, but that working relationship evolved into one of my most enduring friendships, lasting for the past 30 years. Shelly was a remarkable woman, a Steel Magnolia with tremendous strength of character, a terrific sense of humor, and an abiding loyalty to those she held close. She was flawlessly elegant and ageless and feisty. It was as though Julia Sugarbaker from “Designing Women” had stepped off the TV screen and onto Peachtree Street.
Shelly led a fascinating life and was a marvellously independent woman. It took someone incredibly special—namely, Phillip Gowdy—to convince her to share her heart and her home and her world. When you were in their company, it was obvious how much they enjoyed one another and how much fun they had on their adventures. I’m so glad they found each other and had those happy times together.
Ms. Shellgatherer, I’ve been so grateful for your friendship. I already miss your presence on this earth, but I absolutely, truly believe that one day we will meet again on some distant shore. With love, Amblin’.
May 10, 2021
Heartfelt condolences on your loss. I had the pleasure of getting to know Shelly when we worked together at TBS/CNN. I will always remember her elegance and presence. Word has gotten out to many of her former colleagues from those days who also share in your grief. May you be comforted by wonderful, loving memories of this true Southern lady.
May 7, 2021
Shelly was like a sister to me...we spent many hours at the gulf coast and decorating her porch with beach items. She loved the beach and Seagrove was her favorite. I will miss her so much.