Fulton commission vice chairman Joan Garner dies after battling cancer

Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner is shown during a board meeting at the Fulton County Government Center Wednesday, April 15, 2015. KENT D. JOHNSON/ KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM AJC FILE PHOTO

Fulton County Commission Vice Chairman Joan Garner, who was honored by her fellow commissioners earlier this month for her fight against breast cancer and for her years of community service, has died.

In a statement, Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves said he and other commissioners were “heartbroken” by her death on Tuesday.

“We will miss her thoughtful service, her passion for equity, and, especially, her smile and her warmth,” he said.

Garner, who became a commissioner in 2011, was elected to her leadership role in January.

Last week, via video conference while she was at her home, Garner was given a proclamation and received news that a conference room at the county's new health building was being named after her. She will also have a scholarship named after her that helps students interested in county government and health and human services.

Garner said she was “deeply touched” by the gestures, which usually come “after our life has ended.”

“It really fills my heart and I will carry this with me forever,” she said. “I’m just overwhelmed with joy.”

Fulton commissioners told Garner that they valued her friendship and her hard work on a number of topics, including the reduction of new cases of HIV.

“We want to show her the love she so richly deserves,” Fulton Commission Chairman John Eaves said during the commission meeting.

Garner was the Commissioner for District 4, which includes Midtown, and neighborhoods west of downtown Atlanta to Fulton Industrial Boulevard.

She is a native of Washington D.C. who made Atlanta her home in 1978. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of the District of Columbia and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication from Howard University.

Garner lived in the Historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood with her spouse, Fulton County State Court Judge Jane Morrison.

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