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Lanna Aldridge Denison, 49, of Patterson, died peacefully and gracefully on July 21, 2023, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, surrounded by her beloved family, who did not leave her side during her sudden but critical illness. She was able to communicate that she was “ready to walk into the arms of Jesus” and that she would see her loved ones again because of her unwavering faith in Jesus Christ.
Lanna was the Principal of Blackshear Elementary School, one of the largest schools in Pierce County, Georgia. “Ms. Lanna” was known and loved for her beautiful, contagious, radiant smile and love for people, especially the 800 little students who walked the halls of her school. She always led the charge when it came time to help others in need and her service-driven heart is unparalleled. She is adored by her community and her impact will be felt for decades to come.
Lanna was born April 21, 1974, and was a 1992 graduate of Pierce County High School. She received her Bachelor of Science from Valdosta State University, majoring in Secondary Education/ English. She also received her Masters of Education and Specialist in Education degrees from Valdosta State University. She began her 28-year career in 1995 as a Pierce County Middle School Language Arts teacher and became Instructional Coach and then served as Assistant Principal. She was also named District Coordinator for Student Learning Objectives for Pierce County Schools and then Director of Student Achievement in 2017. Because of her dedication, leadership, and work ethic - she was the top choice to become Principal of Blackshear Elementary in 2020 and many educators attribute the school’s successes to her tireless and creative efforts to make it better each and every day. Some say she has revolutionized her school and made it a happy, thriving place to educate the young students who loved her so.
Lanna loved to travel, especially to the beach, where she soaked in each and every sunrise and sunset. She adored her two dogs, Dolly and Q-Tip, and never missed an opportunity to photograph them. She was always “ready to go” and could pack on a moment’s notice. She was the best travel partner. No one was too small or unimportant for Lanna to talk to, thank, encourage, uplift, and visit with. It was never too early or too late to call her and literally hundreds of people considered her one of their very best friends. She loved the Georgia Bulldogs, the Pierce County Bears, attending concerts, and being with her many friends. Her smile was huge and her laughter was contagious and those who loved her say they will hear it ring out forever. She rejoiced with others’ successes and “loved big” and authentically when others were hurting. She truly was always there for a friend in need. Her infectious enthusiasm drew people together and fostered a sense of community among all she touched.
Lanna was an active member of Patterson Baptist Church where she served on the Church Outreach Committee and the Hospitality Committee. She was a member and Past-President of Beta Xi Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa. She was extremely involved in her community and was a supporter of the Pierce County Academic Booster Club, Band Boosters, Athletic Booster Club, and the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She was an avid supporter of Eagle Station and the City of Patterson Historical Preservation Committee, was a certified volunteer for Pierce County 4-H, Okefenokee Technology Competition, and served as a board member and volunteer for Miss Georgia Pageant preliminary competitions. She loved her days at Valdosta State University and made life-long friends as an extremely involved member and officer of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, Eta Iota Chapter.
Above all, Lanna was a loving mother and she absolutely adored her two amazing children. She is survived by Joey Denison and their children; daughter, Maggie Anne Denison (Fiance Austin Hardy); son, Joseph Armond Denison III (Jad) and his wife Taylor; and one brother, Roland Lanier Aldridge, Jr. and his wife Rebecca and their two sons, Lanier and Davis Aldridge. She is also survived by her parents Lanny Aldridge (Sheryl) and Claudia Aldridge Boatright and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. Lanna was preceded in death by a very special aunt and uncle, Beverly and Bert Hires, who had a huge and loving impact on her life.
In lieu of flowers, the family is honored and grateful to continue Lanna’s life mission of helping others - especially children - by announcing the formation of the Love Like Lanna Fund at Blackshear Elementary School and requests that donations be made to it in Lanna’s honor. Through this fund, Lanna’s legacy of loving and helping others will live on in a mighty way in the Blackshear community. Lanna’s family and friends want her to be remembered as one who demonstrated the scripture “Truly I say to you, whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.” Matthew 25:40
The family will forever be grateful to the numerous visitors who packed the hospital waiting rooms, for the prayers they offered, the prayer vigils that were held, and the countless messages posted on billboards and marquees during Lanna’s short illness. As we bid farewell to Lanna, let us remember her for her indomitable spirit, her unwavering love for her family and friends, and her heart for giving to those in need. In the hours preceding her death from this earthly life, she affirmed her love for our Savior Jesus Christ who died for her sins and her steadfast assurance of where she would spend eternity.
Pearson-Dial Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. The viewing will be held in Blackshear, Georgia at First Baptist Church on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, from 5 to 8 P.M. The funeral will be held in Blackshear at First Baptist Church on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at 1:30 P.M. with Pastor Tracy Rigdon officiating and Pastor Vance Colley offering introductory comments. Comments on behalf of the Pierce County School System will be made by Superintendent Dara Bennett and family comments and closing prayer by Dr. Lex Kenerly.
Special music will be provided by Lanna’s sister-in-law, Becca Aldridge, and her nephew, Lanier Aldridge. Also, a special solo will be sung by Krystal Keith of Jesup.
Active Pallbearers will be Richie Allen, Richard Allen, Beau Teston, Jake Echols, Rhett Barnard, Lee Yeomans, Chris Mock and Mitchell Boyette. Honorary Pallbearers will be all employees of Blackshear Elementary School. Please meet at the church by 1 pm on Wednesday.
Interment will be open to the public at Denison Family Cemetery in Patterson following the funeral service and will be officiated by Pastor Tracy Rigdon and Pastor Vance Colley.
Sympathy may be expressed by signing the online register at www.pearsondial.com.
Pearson-Dial Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Please click the link at the bottom of this page to make donations in memory of Lanna.
Love Like Lanna
Blackshear GA 31516