PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WTOC) -The City of Port Wentworth announced on Monday that Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Johnson passed away on Sunday night due to issues related to a recent illness.
Interim City Administrator Steve Davis said in a statement that “On behalf of our citizens and staff, we extend our deepest sympathies to Debbie’s family. Debbie was a larger-than-life figure who brought her remarkable energy to giving a voice to those unheard individuals who she so passionately represented.”
The City of Port Wentworth’s website says that Johnson was serving her second term as Mayor Pro Tem. She was a single mother, and one of the first African American women elected to the Port Wentworth City Council. She was a member of the Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society, and held master’s degrees in both Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology.
State Representative Carl Gilliard issued a comment on Johnson’s passing on Monday afternoon.
Monday, fellow city leaders, as well as others from around the state and county, shared what kind of an impact Johnson had on the community she served and how she will be missed.
Johnson was described by several City leaders as a giver, whether that was gathering up school supplies for the community’s children or serving food on Thanksgiving, they say she truly cared for the community she represented.
“We had a beauty contest at the nursing home, I called on Debbie Johnson, and she was one of my judges," said Council Member At-Large Linda Smith. "So yes she was a giving person, we had some laughs together, and she will be missed.”
Inside the old council chambers, Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Johnson’s colleagues, both on council and from her profession as a 17-year veteran with the Savannah Police Department’s Records office shared memories of her.
“She often was the face of the Savannah Police Department," said SPD Chief Roy Minter. "Whether it was someone coming to pick up a report, or providing assistance to our officers in need of gathering a report or assistance in that area.”
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson spoke on behalf of the City of Savannah, also adding he and Mayor Pro Tem Johnson developed a kinship as local government employees and elected leaders.
“She was a force of nature," he said. "She was someone you just could not, you better lead, follow or get out of the way when it came to her.”