Former Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal died from breast cancer than metastasized into brain cancer today at her home in Demorest, surrounded by Gov. Nathan Deal and their family.
“We have lost a wife, mother and grandmother who loved us unconditionally, as we did her. She blessed us, taught us and enriched our lives,” the Deal family said in a statement. “Our family knew this day was coming, and we are grateful that it gave us the opportunity to enjoy as much time with her as we could in her final months. We are grieving but celebrate her life and the example she set. A woman of unshakeable Christian faith, she did not fear death because she had no doubts about her ultimate destination and knew that we’d all come together again one day. Beyond our family, she touched thousands and thousands of lives as a teacher and as First Lady of Georgia, when she read to students in every county and every school district in the state. The public Sandra Deal matched the private Sandra Deal. She gave to others selflessly, unfailingly and unceasingly. We will miss her but count ourselves lucky that we were hers. She leaves a world that’s better because she was here.”
The Deal family will announce Celebration of Life details soon.
Gov. Brian Kemp said he, First Lady Marty Kemp and their daughters “are truly heartbroken to learn of former First Lady Sandra Dunagan Deal’s passing.”
“The proud daughter of teachers and a two-time graduate of what would become Georgia College and State University, she dedicated her professional life to the same career as her parents – educating the growing minds of Georgia,” Gov. Kemp said. “For generations to come, the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy, located on the campus of her alma mater, will continue her good work in bringing the gift of reading to Georgia’s children.
“As for her marriage to former Gov. Nathan Deal, both those who had the pleasure of knowing them personally and those that they just met were able to witness a relationship filled with unyielding affection and respect.
“As she will for so many Georgians, Mrs. Deal will remain steadfast in our hearts and memories, just as her family will be in our prayers during the time of mourning.”
Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) issued the following statement on the sad news of the passing of Mrs. Sandra Deal, former First Lady of the State of Georgia, and beloved wife to former Governor Nathan Deal:
“With the passing of former First Lady Sandra Deal, Georgia has lost one of its finest and best. Mrs. Deal brought a rare level of beauty, grace, dignity and warmth to the Governor’s office.
“A former classroom teacher, she spent the 8 years of the Deal Administration traveling the length and breadth of this state reading to young Georgians in almost every elementary school in the state.
“She was the source and inspiration for the greatness of Governor Nathan Deal. She touched the lives of so many Georgians and made our state a better place. To know her was to love her and be loved by her.
“We will miss her smile and her way of lifting up all those around her. But we take comfort knowing she is in the peaceful presence of our Heavenly Father.
“Please keep Governor Deal, the Deal children and grandchildren and many friends in your thoughts and prayers.” –Speaker David Ralston
Governor Brian P. Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp today provided the following statement on the passing of former first lady Sandra Dunagan Deal:
“Marty, the girls, and I are truly heartbroken to learn of former First Lady Sandra Dunagan Deal’s passing.
“The proud daughter of teachers and a two-time graduate of what would become Georgia College & State University, she dedicated her professional life to the same career as her parents – educating the growing minds of Georgia. Her generosity of spirit ensured not only that she was beloved by her students, but also an influential force in their lives, leaving an imprint not just on their minds but also on their hearts. For generations to come, the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy, located on the campus of her alma mater, will continue her good work in bringing the gift of reading to Georgia’s children.
“She brought the same dedication and a refined spirit to her work as First Lady. During her time in the Governor’s Mansion, while improving its beauty and preserving its memories for future generations, she also visited schools in all of Georgia’s 159 counties and 181 school districts, some of them multiple times, to read to students and demonstrate her earnest care for them.
“That same level of genuine kindness was a fixture in her life, especially where her family was concerned. Mother to four children and grandmother to six, she loved her family dearly, including her parents whom she took in and cared for when they endured poor health until their own passing.
“But the greatest joy she had was found in the love of her husband, former Governor Nathan Deal. Both those who had the pleasure of knowing them personally and those that they just met were able to witness a relationship filled with unyielding affection and respect. Through 56 years of marriage, she encouraged and helped the love of her life, and cherished most of all being his wife. With his gentle spirit and wisdom by her side, her soul was full and joyous to the very end.
“As she will for so many Georgians, Mrs. Deal will remain steadfast in our hearts and memories, just as her family will be in our prayers during this time of mourning. As she goes to await them in a greater world, we ask all Georgians to join us in celebrating her life and contributions to a thankful state.”