Pat Tanner received the prestigious Liberty Bell Award as the 40th recipient of the honor given to someone who is not an attorney, and the late John Martin was honored with the Robert F. “Bob” Stubbs award for Distinguished Service.
The luncheon for Law Day was co-sponsored by the Rotary Club of Canton and featured Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens as the keynote speaker.
Cherokee Chief Superior Court Judge N. Jackson Harris presented the Liberty Bell Award to Tanner — an active community member who he said has served the city of Canton, the county and the state for years.
“She gave 34 years of service locally, and at the state level, in the Georgia Department of Human Resources Family and Children Services Division. In her professional career, she devoted many years to the protection of those who need our protection — children, the elderly and those with mental health and developmental disabilities,” Harris explained. “Her professional accomplishments, quite frankly, are too numerous for me to list here.”
Harris said Tanner graduated from the then-segregated Ralph J. Bunche School, about two months before the Civil Rights Act was signed.
“She has served on countless boards as a member or director in this county and in the state,” Harris said.
From the North Georgia Health District Board of Directors and the Canton Public Housing Authority, to the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Cecil G. Pruitt YMCA, Tanner has served on dozens of boards and committees.
“She served as councilwoman for the city of Canton for eight years,” Harris said. “Her election in 2004 distinguished her as the first black male or female to hold elected office in Cherokee County.”
Harris said, “In an exceedingly difficult time,” Tanner spent every year of her adult life showing others that they could make a difference.
“Pat Tanner is deserving of this year’s Liberty Bell Award,” Harris said. “She’s promoted a better understanding of our Constitution.”
Harris said it was a “distinct honor” to present Tanner with the Liberty Bell Award.
Tanner said receiving the award was a special honor.
“All I do, I do by the grace of God,” she said. “Through his guidance and leadership, and the guidance and leadership of my mother.”
Tanner thanked the bar association for the award, and said she was pleased and honored to receive the Liberty Bell Award.
“I hope that I will continue to live up to the respect and all that I can do here in the city of Canton and in Cherokee County, on behalf of all citizens, regardless of their economic, social or ethnic status — this is for them,” Tanner said.
The second award, the Robert F. “Bob” Stubbs award for Distinguished Service, was presented to the late John Martin’s family by Cherokee County Associate Probate Judge John Cline.
Cline said Martin, who died in October 2013, was best known for his service in the Cherokee County Juvenile Court.
“The work of the Juvenile Court is some of the most important work that gets done in any court, anywhere,” Cline said.
Cline said in Juvenile Court, “tempers can flare and nerves can fray,” but Martin always managed to get along with everyone and “stay above the fray.”
“John joined the Juvenile Court in 2007 as a court reporter,” Cline said. “John was a treasured member of the Juvenile Court family until his passing … All who came in contact with John couldn’t help but notice his bright smile and his enthusiasm for his work as a court reporter.”
Cline said Martin considered the Juvenile Court his second family.
“John was a breath of fresh air in a place where fresh air is often in short supply,” Cline said. “Life in Juvenile Court is just not the same without him.”
Martin’s widow, Kate Holland, accepted the award on his behalf, and said her husband loved the law and politics.
“He really did enjoy his work,” Holland said. “I was very proud of all that he was able to do.”
Holland said her late husband really loved everyone he worked with at Juvenile Court, and thanked the Rotary Club for giving him the award.
“I thank you so much for this award and for not forgetting him. I know I never will,” she said.
Olens discussed his role in protecting Georgia’s laws and Constitution, during his speech.