ROSWELL, Ga. – It would not be fair to say Marjean Birt was born a Republican. But she does insist she became a Republican when she was 5 years old.
That was when her father became disenchanted with President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal politics and became a Republican in Erie, Pa.
“My father had always been a conservative Democrat, and when he didn’t see eye to eye with Mr. Roosevelt, he changed parties. And I went with him,” said Birt.
Birt has never looked back at her party affiliation. There are not many (if any) Fulton County Republican Party members who can remember when Birt was not involved in local GOP politics.
But her lifelong work began 56 years ago in Erie, where she joined the Erie County Republican Women’s Club. Birt soon became chairwoman, doubled the membership to more than 1,000 women and expanded its board to 41 members.
She also campaigned and helped elect the first Republican mayor of Erie. She has been involved in GOP presidential elections since heading the Barry Goldwater campaign in Erie in 1964.
After marrying Lucas Birt and moving to Alpharetta, she continued her Republican ways, campaigning for GOP candidate Bo Calloway’s unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign. She has supported GOP candidates ever since.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, was only half-joking when he said, “You can’t get on the Republican ballot for office in Fulton County without Marjean’s approval.”
She worked as a voter registrar and poll worker during elections. She was instrumental in starting the Chattahoochee Republican Women’s Club, serving almost continuously as its president.
“Marjean has been a longtime member and has done so much,” said Helen Story, a Marietta member of the Ga. Federation of Republican Women.
She was among three candidates nominated for the honor at the Oct. 26 statewide conference at the Marietta Hilton Conference Center.
Birt was cited not only for her longevity of service to her own club, but for her contributions in getting other GFRW clubs started in North Georgia.
“She has spent a lifetime in service of the party,” Story said. “She was a most deserving recipient of this year’s award.”
It came as a complete surprise to Birt.
“I was amazed,” she said. “I have always just done what I thought a person ought to do.”
That included taking on other jobs, such as serving seven years as chairman of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. She has been an officer or president of the Alpharetta Historical Society and led the efforts to save the Mansell House by moving it to Wills Park in Alpharetta. She joined the Alpharetta Woman’s Club and is past president several times. She also organized their Christmas tour of homes as its major fundraiser.
Fulton County Republican Party Chairman Roger Bonds said Birt’s recognition for her service was well-deserved.
“She has worked literally thousands of hours volunteering her time in her community and in her church as well as in the party,” Bonds said. “It is a rare individual who has given so much of herself.”
Birt has been a mentor and a resource to guide others with her advice and input. And she has always taken a leadership role in everything she gets involved in, Bonds said.
“She has always been known as a good person who helps other people,” he said.