Gwinnett County tax commissioner remembered as a fighter and a winner

Family and friends mourn Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter at her funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

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Family and friends mourn Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter at her funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Family and friends of Tiffany Porter, the Gwinnett County tax commissioner who died last week of cancer at age 43, remembered her at a Thursday funeral as an inspiration who accomplished everything she set her mind to, no matter how impossible it seemed.

About 200 people, masked and distanced, attended the funeral at Saint Philip AME Church in East Lake.

“She didn’t believe in excuses,” said Porter’s brother, Sir Martell Parker, as those in the audience nodded and voiced agreement. “If you want it, get it. If you do it, do it right. ‘I can’t’ did not exist in her vocabulary. ...Her purpose was to inspire us.”

Porter, raised in New Jersey, was the first in her family to go to college, eventually earning a master’s in business administration and a law degree. She was the first Black judge in Duluth Municipal Court and the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett County.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 20 and beat it twice before a recurrence last year. Porter was placed in hospice care in December and given about two weeks to live, her brother said.

“Tiffany never gave up,” he said. “In January she was calling me to help her set up a trip to the Dominican Republic.”

State Rep. William Boddie, an East Point Democrat, said he and Porter had been friends since they met as lawyers in Atlanta municipal court more than 12 years ago. The last time he saw her, he said, she was in a hospital bed wearing an Atlanta Falcons hat and a big smile on her face.

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Georgia State Rep. William Bodie speaks at Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter’s funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Georgia State Rep. William Bodie speaks at Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter’s funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

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Georgia State Rep. William Bodie speaks at Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter’s funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

He read commendations of Porter from Gov. Brian Kemp, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and the Georgia House of Representatives.

Porters four children, who are in their teens and early twenties, also remembered their mother as someone who fought for her life and stayed strong to the end.

“Even when she was sick, she would let me rely on her,” said her daughter Zoe Brown. “She would boss me around in that wheelchair.”

ExploreGwinnett County tax commissioner dies of breast cancer at 43

Porter died just before 1 p.m. on May 5 at Northside Hospital Gwinnett, while her family held her hands and prayed on the phone with her pastor, Travis Hall of Life Church International.

Hall said Thursday that Porter didn’t weather just storms in her life, but hurricanes.

“Tiffany decided that the storm was not going to dictate her destiny,” he said. “All the storm did was deliver the rain that was going to water her dreams.”

She is also survived by her son Brandon Brown, daughters Nia Brown and Tori Saunders, her mother Pamela Parker, and three sisters, Kurstie Parker, Kristie Parker and Akira Pray, who all spoke at the funeral.

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Funeral service staff wheel the casket of Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter at her funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Funeral service staff wheel the casket of Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter at her funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

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Funeral service staff wheel the casket of Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter at her funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Tiffany’s mother said she was an active child who dismayed her younger siblings by insisting on playing school after they all came home from school.

She earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in vocal music performance from Hampton University, a master’s of business administration from Georgia State University and a juris doctorate from Emory University. She was president of the Black Law Students Association at Emory and clerked for state Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham.

She started a private law practice with Tadia Whitner, now Gwinnett’s first Black superior court judge. Porter was also an Atlanta Chiefs semiprofessional football cheerleader who became a certified National Football League agent and founded Zenith Sports and Entertainment Group.

During 16 months as tax commissioner, she created a more efficient appointment process. She also drew criticism after instituting personal fees for collecting cities’ taxes, at one point proposing charges that would have nearly doubled her salary.

Porter lived in Gwinnett County for more than 20 years. She attended Life Church International in Duluth and was active in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

ExploreMore stories about Gwinnett County

On Wednesday, a public wake was held in Lawrenceville and Alpha Kappa Alpha held a ceremony near Lilburn in Porter’s honor.

At the end of the funeral Thursday, the audience stood, clapped and cheered as Hall said, “Tiffany, you finished the race.”

She was buried afterward at Dawn Memorial Park.

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Family and friends mourn Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter at her funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Family and friends mourn Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter at her funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

caption arrowCaption
Family and friends mourn Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Tiffany Porter at her funeral in Atlanta on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Porter, who died of cancer at 43, was the first Black tax commissioner in Gwinnett and previously the first Black judge in Duluth. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com