SC Judge Tanya Gee, Winthrop graduate, dies after long battle with cancer

Circuit Court Judge Tanya Gee of Columbia was a graduate of Winthrop University in Rock Hill.
Circuit Court Judge Tanya Gee of Columbia was a graduate of Winthrop University in Rock Hill. tdominick@thestate.com

Tanya Gee, an S.C. circuit judge beloved by many in the state’s legal community because of her natural, gracious nature, has died after a long battle with cancer. She was 39.

Born in Michigan in 1977, Judge Gee leaves two children and her husband, Chris Koon, who announced the death in a message to a large community of supporters who had been supporting the family throughout her illness.

She graduated from Winthrop University and got a law degree from University of South Carolina Law School.

“She was the most delightful, wonderful person I have ever had the privilege of knowing, and one of the strongest fighters against cancer I’ve ever seen,” said former longtime Columbia mayor Bob Coble, a member of Nexsen Pruet law firm where Gee practiced law many years. “She crossed all lines – everybody loved her.”

As a judge, she kept order in her courtroom and asked good questions.

But in other arenas, she displayed a mischievous sense of humor.

“She is a Clemson Tiger fan by marriage,” she wrote in her official court biographical sketch.

As her disease progressed, she and her husband kept friends and family up with her changing status.

The biographical sketch also said: “Judge Gee began her legal career as law clerk to Kaye G. Hearn, now of the South Carolina Supreme Court. She also served as a temporary law clerk for Judge C. Tolbert Goolsby while he sat on the trial bench as a special circuit court judge.

“She later served as Chief Staff Attorney and Clerk of Court for the South Carolina Court of Appeals. Prior to law school, Judge Gee worked for five years at CVS Pharmacy and still can tell you where to find almost any item in the store, from toe nail clippers to children’s cough medicine.

Before becoming a judge, she was an attorney with Nexsen Pruet, where she focused on civil litigation and appeals.