Anthony R. “Tony” Dees (1937-2007) was an accomplished archives leader, advocate, and contributor. He was a supportive teacher, mentor and colleague to many Georgia archivists. He served SGA as president, vice president, director and nominating chair, and led our 20th Anniversary Committee. An SGA educational scholarship is in his name.
A native of North Carolina, Tony began his nearly 40-year career as a librarian and archivist at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA. He moved to Athens and the University of Georgia Libraries, where he eventually headed the Cataloging Department. He developed an interest in special collections and was appointed director of UGA’s Georgiana Collection and curator of manuscripts. Subsequently, Tony became director of the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah, and several years later he came to Atlanta as the assistant director of the Georgia Department of Archives and History.
Tony became the first archivist for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1992. He developed the archives system for the archdiocese, created the archives office when space and funding were found in 1995, and expanded the holdings of the archives until he retired from the position in 1999.
In an interview for The Georgia Bulletin, he spoke of his love for the work he did to establish the Archdiocese Archives: “Everything we have is priceless as a piece of the mosaic of the church of Atlanta,” he said. “One has to have a feel, respect and love for history and the documents that make history” in order to work with archives.
Active in the Southeast Library Association, Tony served as chair of the Special Libraries Section, and was a regular participant in the Georgia Historical Society. With his wife, Leslie, he co-authored a regular column, “Off the Shelf,” for The Georgia Librarian, and he authored a number of articles for the journal.
Upon his retirement in 1999, Tony continued to serve as a consultant for the archdiocese working as a project manager for a grant to restore the historic Catholic cemetery in Locust Grove. He was instrumental in the process of placing Locust Grove on the National Registry of Historic Places.
A longtime parishioner of Atlanta’s Sacred Heart Church, one of the oldest churches in the diocese, Tony also worked after his retirement to organize the parish’s many historic documents and records. He served as a member of the diocese’s Jubilee Committee, which marked 2006 as Atlanta’s 50th year as an established diocese. He also served as a consultant on John Hanley’s 2006 book that documented the history of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. In 2008, Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board recognized Tony posthumously with their Lifetime Achievement Award.