Lillian Webb, barrier-breaking Gwinnett politician, dead at 87

Full statement from the city of norcross on lillian webb's passing

"The City of Norcross is deeply saddened by the loss of longtime mayor Lillian Webb. 'Mrs. Lillian,' as she was known locally, was a dedicated public servant who left an indelible mark in the Norcross community and the surrounding county.  As the first-elected female mayor of Norcross, Webb was a champion of her time building a strong foundation for growth with her foresight into the need for a strong infrastructure system.

During her 11 terms as mayor, Webb is credited with a getting a professionally staffed fire station, upgraded water and sewage system and roadway updates. In addition, Webb was fiercely dedicated to the beautification of downtown Norcross as evidenced by the naming of the city's Lillian Webb Park.  During her years of service, Webb touched almost every road, in addition to every element of infrastructure, in both the City of Norcross and Gwinnett County. Her legacy will live on through these groundbreaking improvements.

But more importantly, 'Mrs. Lillian' will be remembered by the people she touched along the way and her deep love for her community.  She will be greatly missed and her legacy will live on through the continued pursuit of making Norcross, ‘a place to imagine’ just as she dreamed and wished."

Lillian Webb, barrier-breaking Republican politician, former Gwinnett County commission chairman and longtime mayor of Norcross, passed away Thursday morning after a brief illness.

She was 87.

Known as "Mrs. Lillian," Webb became the first woman and first Republican to be elected to the Norcross City Council in 1969. Five years later, she was elected mayor.

In 1984, Webb became the first woman elected chairman of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners. She led the commission for eight years, helping guide Gwinnett in the early days of its transformation from sleepy suburb to metro Atlanta powerhouse, before returning to her native Norcross — where she again served as mayor, this time until 2008.

All told, she led Norcross for 11 terms.

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In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the city said it was "deeply saddened" by the passing of "a dedicated public servant who left an indelible mark."

"During her years of service, Webb touched almost every road, in addition to every element of infrastructure, in both the city of Norcross and Gwinnett County. Her legacy will live on through these groundbreaking improvements," the statement said. "But more importantly, 'Mrs. Lillian' will be remembered by the people she touched along the way and her deep love for her community."

Among many other things, Webb is credited with paving the way for downtown Norcross' revitalization. In 1974, she stopped demolition crews just before they destroyed the city's old train depot — which is now home to several popular restaurants and shops.

"I didn't want to get out of my car because I was wearing my bathrobe," Webb told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2007. "But I told them, 'You men have to stop. You can't tear down this depot.'"

In 2009, Norcross named a new downtown park in Webb's honor. The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce named Webb its "citizen of the year" in 2013.

In a statement emailed to The AJC on Thursday, current Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said Webb's contributions to the county are still being felt today.

"Lillian Webb," Nash wrote, "was a visionary leader who helped lay the foundation for many of the important attributes and assets of Gwinnett — great libraries, nationally recognized parks system, construction of the Justice and Administration Center, the Civic Center, major transportation projects like Ronald Reagan Parkway, water and sewer improvements and creation of programs like GUIDE and the Coalition for Health and Human Services."

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Webb is survived by two sons, a daughter and four grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Crowell Brothers Funeral Homes and Crematory, 5051 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in Peachtree Corners. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Norcross United Methodist Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made "to the charity of one's choice."

Click here to sign the guest book for Lillian Webb.