James Dustin Tanner, 39, of Rossville, Georgia, passed away on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, at
a Chattanooga hospital.
Dustin's death is so unfair and heartbreaking to us all. His energetic and healthy life showed no signs of ending anytime soon until he developed sudden pain and illness that was caused by an aneurysm and dissection in his ascending thoracic aorta. From the stunning diagnosis in the emergency room through hours of surgery to repair his aorta, Dustin fought bravely to stay alive and made it through the operation because of his strong spirit and the heroes who worked to save him. It was not enough in the end, but it was a comfort to see that he passed away with the most peaceful expression on his face. The family is so very grateful for the efforts of Dustin's highly-skilled surgical team led by Dr. Stephen Martin, and the entire compassionate staff at Parkridge Medical Center.
If you knew Dustin, you knew love and brilliance and wit to the extreme. His artistic abilities emerged at the age of two when his parents took him to McDonald's and Dustin returned
home to sit down and sketch the character Grimace from memory. Dustin wasn't interested in formal art lessons to fence in his wild creativity. His artwork won awards throughout his youth and won over our hearts when we received a handwritten letter, postcard or note. His perfect writing looked straight off a printing press and was always accompanied by a hilarious or heartfelt message and an amazing illustration or cool doodle. Dustin's talent created treasures that will make us smile forever. Speaking of smiles, no one had a better one than Dustin. His pearly whites dazzled everyone and even made his dentist jealous. Dustin made lasting friendships with classmates and colleagues in his hometown of Oglethorpe and beyond.
He attended Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus and worked in retail and banking. Around 2008, he moved to Maryland and pursued a career in research with Westat, working on extensive medical, education, science and travel studies. In 2013, he landed a position with the company's Atlanta office. Dustin was excited to be closer to his family's home again and was roommates with his cousin Amelie.
Once he got into the rhythm of a new job, Dustin started his search for a new romantic relationship and posted a profile on OKCupid. With typical Dustin flair, SlugSong in Acworth sent a chat message to Chickadeb near Chattanooga one morning and she was intrigued by the handsome and friendly man. The messages and emails turned into phone calls that lasted until after midnight and a first date in Dalton that clocked in around eight hours. The long distance love affair was on. Dustin and Deb knew they found true love and he proposed almost a year after they first met. By 2015, Dustin moved to Rossville and started working at Unum/Colonial Life in Chattanooga. Two years later, Deb and Dustin married on the beach at Beasley Park near Destin, Fl., on April Fool's Day. It was no joke, just the happiest day ever for two souls who waited a long time to find their forever loves.
Dustin recently began meaningful volunteer work at Ladies of Charity in Chattanooga. He was thankful and excited for the opportunity to serve others. He also volunteered for events at Sculpture Fields at Montague Park.
Dustin was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Leon James; paternal grandmother, Evelyn Tanner; and paternal grandfather, James R. Tanner.
Dustin is survived by his wife, Deborah Mann Tanner; parents, Mark Tanner and Beth James Tanner; sister, Leah June Tanner; brother, Zachary Mark Tanner; grandmother, June (Nannee) James; special cousin, Amelie Tanner; and many close aunts, uncles, and cousins.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Ladies of Charity Chattanooga at 2821 Rossville Blvd., Chattanooga, TN 37407 or Sculpture Fields at 1601 Gulf Street, Suite 500, Chattanooga, TN 37408.
Condolences may be sent to www.lane-southcrestchapel.com.
Memorial services will be held on Friday, Jan. 4, at 2 p.m. in the South Crest Chapel.
The family will receive friends from noon until the funeral hour at the South Crest Chapel of Lane Funeral Home and Crematory, Rossville.