In Memoriam: Cecilia Anne Boswell, APR, Fellow PRSA

Cecilia Anne Boswell, APR, Fellow PRSA, a longtime PRSA member, distinguished PR practitioner and former member of the PRSA Board of Directors, died on Dec. 3, 2022. She was 89.

Spanning more than 30 years in government public relations, Boswell began her career in 1973 as the director of public relations for the Georgia Department of Human Resources and the Georgia Office of Child Support, where she worked until her retirement. She was part of the team that transitioned two State Departments and several small agencies into the new Georgia State Department of Human Resources.

In 1984, she moved to the federally expanded Georgia State Office of Child Support Recovery, establishing a public relations and information program to increase awareness of new child support laws and services offices around the state. She also developed a program to warn teenagers of the consequences of teen pregnancy. This program was implemented by child support agencies in more than 30 states. In her professional capacity, she met Gov. Jimmy Carter prior to his election as the first U.S. President from the state of Georgia.

Boswell earned her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) in 1974 and is a past president of PRSA’s Georgia Chapter. She earned awards from PRSA Georgia, plus two Silver Anvil Awards. The first Silver Anvil-award-winning campaign, titled “It’s OK to Tell,” was designed to educate parents, teachers and doctors on recognizing child abuse, and to let children know that they should tell someone if they were being abused. The second Silver Anvil-award-winning campaign, “Post-Polio Alert,” was a nationwide program in the United States and Canada, alerting doctors and early polio survivors that severe polio symptoms could return later in life.

She served on the PRSA Board of Directors in 1989-1990 and was inducted into the Order of the Phoenix, established in 1986 by PRSA Georgia, recognizing and honoring distinguished PR professionals for their career achievements, significant contributions to public relations and exemplary community service.

Throughout her career and retirement, Boswell was involved in community service, including volunteering for many organizations. In retirement, she served as secretary of the Union Hill United Methodist Church for 21 years. She partnered with her husband, Kenneth Boswell, in developing the Highland-Cashiers Fall Fling, a fundraiser for the Village Green public park in Atlanta.

Her public service centered on children’s issues and PR education. Boswell was a member of Emory University’s Public Affairs Advisory Council. In 1988, Chapter members inducted into the Order of the Phoenix also entered the Georgia PRSA Hall of Fame, created in 1988 by the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at The University of Georgia in cooperation with PRSA Georgia.

Born in Spartanburg, S.C., in 1933 to Eula (nee Zimmerman) and James Anderson Cole Sr., Boswell grew up in Salisbury, N.C. She graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and psychology, later studying public relations strategies and management. She married Donald Gettle in 1954, and moved to Atlanta five years later, where she worked in banking. She married Kenneth Boyd Boswell in 1976, a beat reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who became the PR director for the Fulton County government in 1980.

Boswell is survived by her children and grandchildren.

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