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Although Watkinsville’s legendary “hug lady,” Augusta “Gus” Verner, is no longer with us, the gracious 

feeling of her warm embrace is not forgotten. 

Verner, who died in 2014 at the age of 93, was remembered fondly and honored illustriously this month as the city of Watkinsville officially dedicated the Harden Hill pedestrian bridge in her name. 

“She was a woman of many titles, but probably the one she was most remembered around town for was ‘the hug lady,’” said her granddaughter, Rebecca Verner Holcomb. “Hugs fix problems people may not even know they have. Being kind doesn’t cost a penny. Blood doesn’t make you family; love does.” 

At the ceremony, Rebecca handed out hug cards like her grandmother used to do. The cards stated, “Hugs to you today that come straight from the heart, with wishes that your day is blessed right from the start.” 

The text on the cards continues, “I’m saying a prayer that God will shine His love and protection on you and keep you in his care.” 

On the back of the card reads 1 John 4:12: “Love one another.” 

Verner was a well known walker in town, often walking five miles every day and accompanied by a black dog wearing a red bandana. She’d walk to Watkinsville First United Methodist Church from her home along Thrasher Drive, and she’d even walk to and from the mechanic when her car was in the shop. 

After she lost her leg to cancer, she’d still travel around town every day in her wheelchair. 

For more on this story, see the Sept. 16 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website. 

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