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Carol Comer, director of Natural Resources, dies

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Department of Natural Resources Director Carol Comer has died.

“We are greatly saddened and heartbroken to hear of Director Comer’s passing,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “Carol was an extremely talented and accomplished leader, and the entire state of Missouri grieves alongside her friends and family. Carol brought expertise, energy, and an enthusiastic smile to every project, and she will be deeply missed among our cabinet and in the thousands of lives that she touched. She was a dedicated public servant who loved this state, its people, and the great outdoors. We could not have asked for a better advocate for Missouri’s natural resources. Teresa and I will keep Carol’s loved ones in our prayers as we mourn the loss of this extraordinary individual.”

Connie Patterson, director of communications for DNR, said, “We plan to carry out her vision for the agency moving forward. We are thankful for the strong leadership of Deputy Directors Dru Buntin and Katie Jo Wheeler.”

Comer led DNR since January 2017. Before coming to Missouri, Comer worked in Indiana’s Department of Environment Management in a variety of capacities, serving under then-Gov. Mike Pence. As a lawyer, she has represented companies regarding environmental and utility matters in Indiana and Arizona. 

Comer was once considered a potential Environmental Protection Agency administrator under former President Donald Trump. She had been battling cancer for the past few years. 

Comer is an alumna of Indiana University School of Business and earned a joint master’s and a law degree from Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. At the latter, Comer was its first Environmental Law Fellow. 

When Comer first publicly revealed her cancer diagnosis, she held her employees and colleagues at the forefront of her mind. She praised her staff, the Governor’s Office, and other Cabinet officials and said she was “being well cared for.” 

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.