Deaths of Note

Published on August 20th, 2015 |


Doris Massell, 63-year wife of Sam Massell, has died; services Friday

BuckheadView has learned that Doris Massell, 89, wife of former Atlanta mayor and Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell, passed away Wednesday after a long illness. She had been living at an assisted living facility in Buckhead for months.

Doris Massell, left, is shown with daughter Cindy and husband Sam Massell on the night in 2012 he was honored with the Four Pillars Award.

Doris Massell, left, is shown with daughter Cindy and husband Sam Massell on the night in 2012 he was honored with the Four Pillars Award.Buckhead for many months.

A funeral service will be held Friday (Aug. 21) at 1 p.m. at The Temple, 1589 Peachtree Street NE in Midtown, with Rabbis Peter Berg and Alvin Sugarman officiating. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the synagogue at 12 noon. Private interment will follow at Crestlawn Cemetery

Doris Massell

Doris Massell

Mrs. Massell was born November 23, 1925, in Griffin, Georgia, the daughter of Ada and Dee Middlebrooks, and spent her childhood in Hogansville, Georgia, where she graduated from Hogansville High School. Following high school, she moved to Atlanta to attend business school.

She later studied art at Georgia State University, where her husband later received his Business Degree. She learned additional painting skills from Fay Gold and Selma Beard, a prolific artist in both oils and water colors.

She was employed at the Atlanta offices of The Texas Oil Company for 10 years, after which she worked with her husband and their children in the tourism business they owned for 13 years.

She met Sam Massell at a supper club on Valentine’s Day in 1949. “I saw this redhead and tried to woo her away,” he recalled. It was weeks before she would agree to go out with him. He even attended Sunday school at her Baptist church to get her attention. They got married October 25, 1952, and she converted to the Jewish faith.

Doris Massell is survived by their children Cindy Massell of Atlanta, Steve Massell (and wife  Krista) of Sandy Springs, and Melanie Jacobs (and her husband Jack) of Bradenton, Fla., and three grandchildren (the children of Steve and Krista) Dylan, Graham and Isabel. Doris was preceded in death by her parents, and a brother, Johnny.

Son Steven Massell

Son Steven Massell

Son, Steven Massell, is a principal with Lee & Associates commercial real estate firm in Atlanta. Melanie Massell has been known for years in Buckhead and Atlanta as a singing performer at various local venues. Daughter Cindy is known primarily by the family as an “accomplished artist,” as her father has often said.

For decades, Doris Massell was seen at her husband’s side at events while he was a commercial real estate executive, a City of Atlanta Alderman, City of Atlanta mayor,

Daughter Melanie Massell

Daughter Melanie Massell

owner of a travel agency in Buckhead and as president of the Buckhead Coalition.Sam Massell was the first Jewish mayor of Atlanta, serving from 1970-74.

After Massell was elected mayor, Doris monitored his calendar to ensure he kept his social appointments, Massell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the news obituary it published on Friday.

Outgoing and friendly, she was a great dancer who enjoyed attending galas and was at ease socializing with anyone – from celebrities to presidents. “She was always ready to do her part to represent the city and my job,” Sam Massell said. “Whether it was attending President Johnson’s inauguration or cooking a late-night breakfast for local officials after opening night for the Braves’ first game, she did it very well.”

She also traveled the world with Sam Massell as he and she were fond of taking cruise vacations–at least one a year. “We took 73 cruises over the years. We cruised all over the world,” her husband told the AJC. “She enjoyed visiting new destinations. But she never wanted to stay away too long. She was a loyal Atlantan.” An avid reader, she also loved her book clubs and playing mahjong with friends.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Temple, or a charity of choice. Online condolences may be made at or condolences to Sam Massell can be addressed to: Sam Massell, President, Buckhead Coalition, 100 Tower Place – Suite 560, 3340 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta GA 30326.


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One Response to Doris Massell, 63-year wife of Sam Massell, has died; services Friday

  1. Hiram Sturm, M.D. says:

    I am very sorry to hear of your loss. What a beautiful love story and a tribute, so richly deserved, to your lovely wife and to you. Thanks for being such an important couple in the history and development of Atlanta. Hiram and Richard Sturm

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