Garnett H. Cobb, 104: ‘Queen of Sandy Springs’

For more than 50 years, Garnett Cobb worked tirelessly to promote historic preservation and create a sense of community in Sandy Springs.

“We called her the Queen of Sandy Springs,” said her son, John T. “Tommy” Cobb Jr.

Cobb’s many contributions to Sandy Springs won’t soon be forgotten, said friend Junie Brown.

“If any one person could be called the founder of the Sandy Springs Foundation, it would be Garnett,” said Brown, who was the foundation’s first executive director.

In 1996, the foundation even named an award the Garnett Cobb Outstanding Volunteer Award, to honor Cobb’s service, Brown said.

“It was because of her contribution to the Sandy Springs Foundation, acquiring the Williams-Payne House and getting the money to move it, and her work on several other committees, including being treasurer for many years,” she said. “She really was an outstanding volunteer.”

Cobb was known across many organizations for her ability to organize and raise funds and there wasn’t much that could stop her, friends and family said. And even in death, she is still fundraising for her beloved Sandy Springs.

Garnett Hanna Cobb died Wednesday, six days after her 104th birthday, from complications of pneumonia. She left specific instructions that instead of flowers, she asked people to donate to Heritage Sandy Springs.

A funeral Mass is planned for 1 p.m. on Tuesday at St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church, Sandy Springs. Burial will follow at Arlington Memorial Park. Sandy Springs Chapel Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.

Cobb, who grew up in Indianapolis, moved to Atlanta in 1946 after she married John T. Cobb Sr. She had a banking job in Indiana and when she arrived in Georgia, she found a job with First National Bank of Atlanta, where she worked for 23 years, her son said.

In the late 1940s, the Cobbs moved to Florida when her husband was transferred. When they returned in late ‘50s, the family settled in Sandy Springs, where they became founding members of St. Jude Catholic Church. She also joined the Sandy Springs Garden Club. The Cobbs were married for 60 years at the time of John Cobb Sr.’s death in 2006.

It was her work with the garden club that eventually led to the establishment of the Williams-Payne House, which is now run by Heritage Sandy Springs. In a 1989 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cobb said she was looking for a garden center for the club. A farmhouse located on Mount Vernon Highway was in danger of being razed for development purposes in 1984. She contacted the development firm on the project and the company agreed to donate the house and pay for its relocation. The only problem was, Cobb and the garden club had nowhere to put it.

Around the same time, a community group was looking to save the spring that inspired the city’s name. The two groups — the garden club and what would later become Heritage Sandy Springs — worked together and five years later, the Williams-Payne House opened to the public as a museum.

It was at the Williams-Payne House that Tommy and Sandra Cobb held Garnett Cobb’s 100th birthday party. It seemed the appropriate place, said her daughter-in-law, considering how much energy Garnett Cobb put into the preservation of the house.

“But then I asked her what friends she wanted to invite and she gave me a list of 300 names,” Sandra Cobb said, laughing. “And 250 came! How is it that a 100-year-old woman has that many friends?”

Her secret?

“She’d say, ‘If you live long enough, you will outlive all of your friends,’” Tommy Cobbs said. “But she’d follow that and say she made a point to make much younger friends.”

In addition to her son and his wife, Cobb is survived by several nieces and nephews.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.