In life, Diana Preston could be found, at one time or another, practically everywhere in Gwinnett.
“I don’t know how she did it all — she was involved in education, she was a public servant, she did a lot for the community and not even just for Lilburn; she was just involved in everything,” Preston’s daughter, Tracy Preston, said. “If you needed something done, you would ask her, because she would find a way to get it done. She was just a doer, and very passionate about being part of the community.”
Since her death from cancer last November, Preston’s legacy has lived on through her fellow Lilburn residents and other local community members, a testament to her influence across the county.
Now, though, Preston will be permanently remembered in Lilburn City Hall with a room named after her, which was made official in a Monday evening dedication ceremony that drew past and present city officials, community members and Preston’s family.
“We’ve called this place the shared meeting room, but we thought it only appropriate that we have a name for (it),” Lilburn Mayor Johnny Crist said Monday. “We went through all the educators in Gwinnett County, we went through the list of people who are long-gone but have been in the records of history as making an impression in this area, and nothing stuck. Then along the way, we had a creative idea ... and we thought, let’s call this room ‘The Preston.’”
The room dedication comes about nine months after Crist, who succeeded Preston as mayor — Preston, the only female in Lilburn’s history to hold the position, served from 2008 to 2012 — proclaimed Dec. 12 as “Diana Preston Day” in Lilburn.
While Preston only served one term as mayor, her role as a leader began long before she was elected to lead the city in 2007.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Preston moved to Lilburn in 1970 and spent 30 years working for Gwinnett County Public Schools as a teacher, coordinator and administrator.
Though she served the county’s children, her work didn’t stop there; she spent 22 years at a Lilburn City Councilwoman before running for mayor.
In her time as a city councilwoman and mayor, Preston helped create the Camp Creek Greenway Trail. She also led the rededication of Lilburn City Park in 2004 and the Lilburn Centennial Celebration in 2010, and helped to get the Lilburn Community Improvement District established in 2010.
Additionally, she was involved in early talks about building the joint City Hall and Library building, which opened in 2016 — the same building her room now occupies.
Over the years, Preston also served as president of the Gwinnett Municipal Association and was a member of the Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful Board of Directors, and in more recent years, Preston served on Lilburn’s Downtown Development Authority and formed the nonprofit Lilburn Community Partnership.
Her dedication to Lilburn and Gwinnett was unmatched, Lilburn City Councilman Eddie Price said Monday — making the room naming fitting.
“I may not have always agreed with what she would say or do, but her heart was always in the city; there’s no doubt about it,” Price said. “Her heart really was in it, and I miss her.”