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Words of condolences and promises to carry on a vision for the state's natural resources were expressed Wednesday upon the death of Missouri's Department of Natural Resources director.

Carol Comer, who had served as the DNR director since January 2017, had been in an ongoing battle with cancer since 2019.

As DNR director, she led the department in protecting clean air, land, water and mineral resources around the state of Missouri.

In a statement Wednesday, Gov. Mike Parson said, "We are greatly saddened and heartbroken to hear of Director Comer's passing. 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."

In announcing Comer's death, DNR Communications Director Connie Patterson 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."

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe recalled Comer's cheerful and positive attitude.

"Claudia and I were very saddened to learn of Carol Comer's passing," Kehoe said in a statement. "We extend our sincere condolences to her family in Indiana as well as her Department of Natural Resources family in Missouri. I enjoyed working with Carol in her capacity as DNR director, and am grateful for the contributions she made to the department and the state of Missouri.

"I consider myself fortunate to have known Carol, and my lasting memory will be of her cheerful and positive attitude at State Parks event in Sedalia last week."

Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Wardsville, said although he didn't work with Comer much, he respected the work she did at the Department of Natural Resources and is confident the staff will advance her goals.

"Anybody that's willing to take those jobs and put in the effort considering the illness she was going through has to be admired," Veit said. "I know that she had her challenges and her illness, and she managed to keep the organization in fine order."

Rep. David Griffith, R-Jefferson City, said his thoughts and prayers were with Comer's family.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt took to Twitter to express his condolences.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of @MoDNR Director Carol Comer, a dedicated and accomplished public servant," Schmitt tweeted. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and loved ones."

The Missouri Department of Public Safety also shared a message on Twitter.

"Sharing a building with @MoDNR, the DPS Director's Office staff got to see Carol Comer up close and often," the official department Twitter account posted. "We will miss her enthusiasm and commitment to public service. May her memory be a blessing to her family and all her knew and worked with Director Comer."

Before becoming Missouri's DNR director, Comer was the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management in 2015, where she also served as chief of staff and general counsel.

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