Mary Lanier Champion

June 29, 1931December 1, 2018

Mary Lanier Champion was born in Tallassee, AL, on June 29, 1931. She passed away December 1, 2018, at the age of 87. She was a woman of strong faith who loved God, her family, and serving others. Mary was a southern lady, raised in West Point, GA.

She graduated from Auburn University where she was an active member of Kappa Delta Sorority and majored in clothing and textiles. She married John Champion in 1955 and they moved to Tallahassee, FL in 1956 where John became the President of Florida State University in 1965. Mary brought grace and elegance to her role as First Lady of Florida State University. She kept the President’s House filled with fresh flowers and hosted annual Easter egg hunts and a Halloween party for university faculty and children. In recognition of her service to the university she was selected for membership in the Garnet Key leadership honorary society and was honored with a plaque at the First Tribute Garden by the President’s House.

She was loved by all for her kind spirit, commitment to community, and ability to always see the good in life. A mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend to everyone she met, she spent her free time baking for neighbors, gardening with her husband, and using her hands to sew and craft gifts for loved ones.

She is predeceased by her husband, John Elmer Champion, her parents, Campbell brown Lanier and Bertie Akridge Thompson Lanier, and her brothers, Campbell Brown Lanier, Jr. and James Smith Lanier.

She is survived by her children, Sally Champion Blackburn, and John Elmer Champion, Jr., their spouses, Glen Arthur Blackburn and Jane Schultz Champion, her grandchildren, Mary Lanier Odom, Elizabeth and Mike Guju, her sister, Sally Lanier Davenport, her sisters-in-law, Betty Lanier and Connie Champion and her seven nieces and six nephews.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 am on Thursday, December 6, at All Saints Anglican Church at 15 McDowell Rd, Mills River, NC, with The Venerable Erich Zwingert presiding. The family will receive guests following the service at the church. Private burial will be held at a later date in Tallahassee, FL.


  • Funeral Service Thursday, December 6, 2018

Mary Lanier Champion

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Carol (Dobson) & Mark Gumula

December 14, 2018

Mary Champion lived such a life of gracious giving, caring and sharing. Her southern charm, quiet, mannerly, soft voice and her constant giving of her many talents was the daily persona of this lovely lady. Her love of family and friends was a constant. She was beloved by all that knew her, and she showered her affection on everyone in so many ways. There are so many milestones in our lives that were so beautifully touched by Mary Champion. She gifted us with lovely parties filled with shining silver, her homemade delights and beautiful arrangements of flowers from her garden. She hand painted priceless china wedding gifts, smocked and sewed gifts for our new babies, and made adorable hand painted mugs for our little ones with their names on it. Her recipe for a delicious cake has been a family favorite in our home for fifty plus years, and is fondly called Mary Champion cake. Her cake is requested every birthday and holiday by every single family member. We will celebrate her every time we serve it. We all feel very blessed to have known Mary. She was a dear gift of gentleness and loving goodness to a world so in need of such qualities. Sally and Johnny, We send you and your families so much love and so much gratitude. Our families shared a very special friendship. All my love to you and yours, Carol (Dobson) Gumula, Mark and family

Mary Frances Smith

December 5, 2018

We are so very, very sorry for the family's loss. Mrs. Champion was the most gracious, sweet, kind, lovely, caring and thoughtful lady we have ever had the pleasure to know. She always had a smile and something good to say about you. She made you feel so good and cared about. It was a true honor and pleasure to have known her. We have the family in our thoughts and prayers and really hope all of you find comfort in the many, many wonderful memories that you have of such a wonderful person. God bless all of you.

Mary Frances, Randall and Christopher

Hannah and Jack Barr

December 4, 2018

We are so very sorry for your loss. Mary and John were such good friends of ours through the years. They will be truly missed but the memories of them will live on. Praying for comfort and peace this holiday season to the entire family.
With Deepest Sympathy,
Hannah and Jack Barr
Tallahassee, Florida

Carol Cartee

December 3, 2018

Dear Sally, Mary, Elizabeth Ann and Johnny:

I am so very sorry for your loss. I have such fond memories of your mother(grandmother). From the beautiful dresses she would make the girls, to the amazing luncheons she would host, to her generous sharing of her beach home. Her sweet spirit was an inspiration to all who had the pleasure of knowing her. Please know I am praying for your peace and comfort.

Much love,


Bill Scott

December 3, 2018

Sally and Johnny, Martha and I are so sorry to hear of your loss. The Family has meant so much to us through the years and we have many memories of your in West Point and at the beach. May God bless all of you at this time.