Longtime Georgia council member dies suddenly

Savannah-area council member dies suddenly

The Savannah-area mayor pro tem died Sunday

The community of Port Wentworth is mourning the loss of Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Johnson, who passed away Sunday due to “unexpectedly severe” complications from a recent illness.

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.

The city’s Chamber of Commerce posted a tribute to Johnson on its Facebook page Monday, remembering the mayor pro tem as a “kind, energetic” woman.

“Our Chamber family is beyond heartbroken at the unexpected passing of a beloved City Council member, Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Johnson,” the post reads. “...She was a kind, energetic woman who took service to her community seriously and exhibited passion and grace in her work and dealings with others.”

On Monday, Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter told WSAV 3, an NBC affiliate, that Johnson always had a smile on her face. Johnson had worked for the police department for more than 15 years.

Funeral arrangements had not yet been announced for Johnson as of Monday evening.

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