SNELLVILLE — Those following the saga of a woman’s battle with a bacterial infection were greeted with sad news early Wednesday.
“At exactly 4:15 this morning, Hannah Johnson Rinehart went to the be with the Lord,” wrote husband, Mark Rinehart, a South Gwinnett High School teacher, on the family’s website. “She is celebrating, and I am thankful for God allowing me to have the privilege of being her husband while she was here on this Earth.”
Rinehart fell ill in late June after contracting a rare bacterial infection from dog saliva. By late July, the tissue in her hands and feet had deteriorated to the point that her extremities had to be amputated.
A patient care technician in DeKalb County, Hannah, 32, had successfully battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma for years, and had advocated for cancer research at Relay For Life events.
On the family’s website, Mark reported that family was present “when Hannah was ready to go.”
Her brother, David Johnson, said those who knew her will remember her as “a humble girl.”
“She always put other people’s needs above her own, and she was a true joy to know,” Johnson said. “Hannah had grace, and she had a real love for living and love for other people.”
Added Johnson: “She was remarkable, and it’s going to take a long time after her being gone for this whole thing to become bearable.”
Her father said his daughter was a source of happiness for those she met.
”I think back to the day Hannah was born thirty two years ago and I can’t think of a day in which she has not brought joy into my life,” Doug Johnson, Hannah’s father, wrote on Facebook.
”For those of you who have followed her story, I’d like to say how much we appreciate it,” her father said. “Words don’t seem adequate to express our feelings for the prayers and love and concern and support we have received.”
In the final weeks of Rinehart’s life, the family publicly expressed their opinion at a board of education meeting about a Gwinnett County Public Schools policy that they said kept Mark from being able to spend time with his wife.
Fellow teachers at South Gwinnett had offered to help him by donating sick and vacation time, but a spokesperson with the district said it just wasn’t possible. The human resources department, however, offered Mark other options, which he declined.
Despite the disagreement, Mark said the support from community members has been overwhelming.
“Thank you for all the love and support you have shown my wife and our family,” he wrote. “Hannah’s life as we understand it through our senses has passed, yet I can find some solace in knowing she is doing far better now, and she is surrounded by God’s loving kindness in a way that I cannot even imagine.”
Those wishing to donate to assist Mark with medical expenses that accrued can visit www.hannahrinehart.org.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.