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Former Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal, of Gainesville, dies
Sandra Deal
Former Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal.

Gainesville native and former Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal died at her home in Demorest Tuesday, Aug. 23, surrounded by Gov. Nathan Deal and family.

Sandra Deal died from breast cancer that had spread to brain cancer, according to a press release from Brian Robinson, who served as the governor’s communications director.

“We have lost a wife, mother and grandmother who loved us unconditionally, as we did her,” the Deal family said in a statement. “She blessed us, taught us and enriched our lives. 

“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.”

The family goes on to describe Deal as “a woman of unshakeable Christian faith” who “did not fear death because she had no doubts about her ultimate destination, and knew that we’d all come together again one day.”

The statement continues: “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 family will announce Celebration of Life details soon.

The release quotes Gov. Brian Kemp as saying that he, First Lady Marty Kemp and their daughters “are truly heartbroken” about her death.

“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,” the governor 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.”

This story was originally published in The Gainesville Times, a sister publication of the Dawson County News.