Sandra Deal, Georgia’s former first lady, died on Tuesday at the age of 80. Her husband Nathan Deal served as Governor from 2011-2019. The current Governor Brian Kemp and his wife Marty had this to say about Sandra Deal’s passing, according to a release from his office:

“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.”

Photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Brian Kemp