Adrian Bonser, a member of Dunwoody’s first City Council, died Friday, July 20, at her home in Dunwoody. She was 60.
Bonser had metastatic breast cancer after first being diagnosed with cancer in 2009, according to her obituary.
Bonser joined the board of Dunwoody Yes! in early 2008, to advocate for incorporating the city, and became the first woman to serve on the City Council. She served from 2008 until 2014 and during much of that time was being treated for cancer.
State Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody), who served on the first council with Bonser, said he remembers when the city rolled out its first police force at midnight on April 1, 2009, and Bonser said she had to talk to him after the event.
“She told me she got diagnosed that day,” he said. “Many people didn’t realize how long she was dealing with this. I’m sad to see her go, but I’m glad she’s at peace now.”
Taylor said after he was elected to the first City Council, he also got diagnosed with cancer and Bonser was there for him through his surgeries and treatment.
He said he remembers driving her to council meetings because she was too sick to drive. She was receiving treatment and medication through a line in her heart, he said.
“She was a good friend. She was tough,” he said. “She was the first woman on council and people like to refer to us as founding fathers of Dunwoody, but she was a founding mother — we were founding parents.”
Mayor Denis Shortal, who was also on the first council with Bonser, noted she was the first woman to serve on the City Council. “She worked hard … and she has shown all of us some personal courage for what she has gone through in the past years,” he said. “We are keeping her family in our thoughts and prayers.”
Councilmember Terry Nall also praised Bonser for her role in helping found the city and her role on the first council.
“As a founding council member of the city of Dunwoody, she leaves a legacy of public service that benefits future generations and helped make ‘A Better Dunwoody,’” he said. “Our prayers are with her husband Brian and her extended family.”
Taylor said Bonser worked incredibly hard to help incorporate the city and he talked her into running for a seat on the first council.
“None of us had been elected to office before. We were like the dog that caught the car,” he said. “We had no money, no staff, no place to hang our hats … and 90 days to start a police department and government. I’m proud of all the work we did.”
Councilmember Lynn Deutsch praised Bonser specifically for her work to help Georgetown.
“During her time on council, Adrian made the redevelopment of the Georgetown area a priority. Since that time the city has developed three new parks, a multipurpose trail and there’s so much more to come,” she said.
“Her vision and advocacy for the area led to early council decisions that have helped shape the area,” Deutsch added. “Her contributions have made Dunwoody a better place now and in the future.”
At her last council meeting on Dec. 9, 2013, she received a proclamation from Mayor Mike Davis thanking her for her service.
She recently dedicated a rose garden at the Dunwoody Farmhouse historical site, according to her obituary.
She is survived by her husband of 17 years, Brian Bonser, and stepchildren Neil Bonser of Atlanta and Ian Bonser of Gainesville.
A private graveside burial ceremony will be held at Greenwood Cemetery in Atlanta on Tuesday, July 24. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to The American Cancer Society.