The city, which is in the metro area of Savannah, made the announcement about the mayor pro tem’s passing Monday. Johnson, a single mom, was one of the first African American women to serve on the Port Wentworth City Council, according to her bio on the city’s website. She was serving her second term as mayor pro tem.
"Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Johnson passed last night due to unexpectedly severe complications from a recent illness. The entire City of Port Wentworth family mourns this loss. 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 Port Wentworth statement on Johnson's passing
Family, friends and her colleagues made several tributes to Johnson, who advocated for women’s rights and was in 2016 named the Drum Major Award Honoree by Feed the Hungry Savannah.