County Commission honors the late Jo Ann Garrett

County Commission stood and appluaded the late Jo Ann Garrett after presenting a resolution her husband, Ray, last Tuesday night. Garrett was a pioneer in Anderson County for social justice and with mentoring children.
No one has thought to say this about the late Jo Ann Garrett, but she may have been the original role model, the original “Wonder Woman,” a person to who could lead by simply being “present.”

And she loved her community as much as she did her husband, Ray, and children, Laurel, Natlie, Lawrence, and Susan.

Tuesday night the the Anderson County Commission recognized these truths.

She provided leadership as Girl Scout leader, Campfire Girls leader, Cub Scout Den Mother, and softball coach for Girls, Inc. She served terms on the Junior Playhouse board, Methodist Medical Center Foundation board, Oak Ridge Civic Music Association board, and Oak Ridge Unitarian Church board. She served on Local and State League of Women Voters boards. She was president of the Oak Ridge Committee of 50, member and president of Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club (Rotarian of the Year 1999), member of Altrusa, Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, and Anderson County Chamber of Commerce.

Last Tuesday she was honored by the Anderson County Cimmission. District 8 Commissioner Bob Smallridge presented Resolution No. 19-02-730 honoring the late Jo Ann Garrett as “a great community leader, political activist, caring philanthropist, and above all, our dear friend.”

Her husband, Ray, himself a perennial volunteer, accepted the framed Resolution from Smallridge, saying he appreciated what it said. “She deserved it all.”

Then, his voice strained, he added, “And I miss her,” and quickly returned to his seat — to a standing ovation from Commissioners and other friends.

The Resolution, originated by Dist. 6 Commissioner Catherine Denenberg, reads:

WHEREAS, on October 30, 2018 our county lost a great community leader, political activist, caring philanthropist, and above all, our dear friend, Jo Ann Garrett; and

WHEREAS, Jo Ann passed after a long and courageous battle with cancer but her legacy in this community will never be forgotten.

She will forever be remembered as one of our most beloved community leaders and dedicated county officials. She was the consummate professional leading numerous community and political action groups for over four decades;

The Resolution then lists Garrett’s many contributions to “Inter-faith Council, Oak Ridge School Board, Girl Scouts of America, Junior Playhouse of Oak Ridge, Methodist Medical Center Foundation, Chamber of Commerce, Unitarian Church Board of Directors, Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary, Oak Ridge Civic Music Association and her true passion, the Anderson County League of Women Voters.”

And her contributions to the Anderson County Democratic Women’s Club, the Anderson Democratic Party Executive Committee, and to many candidates.

And her public service as the Anderson County Administrator of Elections.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Anderson County Board of Commissioners meeting in regular session this 19th day of February 2019 that we honor the life and career of our colleague, Jo Ann Garrett, for her devotion and dedication to our great county and her constant desire to make Anderson County a better place to live, work and raise a family. Her efforts will never be forgotten in Anderson County and especially in the halls of the Anderson County Courthouse. Rest in peace our dear friend and may you, and your family always know how grateful we are for your service to Anderson County.

Ray Garrett and Bob Smallridge were asked to pose for a photo after the resolution was read, but at Chairmain Tracy Wandell’s invitation’s to every commissioner present — literally and figuratively — all commissioners stood with Ray or stand with him.

After all, their Resolution was their gift to Ray Garrett, too.

It was clear on Ray’s face he understood, through his grief, that they, and his and Jo Ann’s many other friends, had his back.

He knew that along with his framed Resolution, he could bring home the love Jo Ann and he had been creating for so long.