For eight years, Todd Gaines rallied for the area's small business owners as the president of the CSRA Business League.
"He had a passion for developing small businesses," state Rep. Quincy Murphy, D-Augusta, said."He was truly committed to what he had been called to do."
Mr. Murphy said he was shocked to hear Tuesday of the 46-year-old Augusta man's death. The husband and father of two died of apparent natural causes Tuesday, but an autopsy was pending, said Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten.
Mr. Gaines, a North Carolina native, graduated from North Carolina A&T University and received his master's degree at Northeastern University, said Rebecca Dent, a longtime family friend.
Mr. Gaines left a job as a production supervisor at Kimberly-Clark Corporation in Beech Island to begin leading the CSRA Business League in 2000, Mr. Murphy said.
"He said he was looking for a challenge," Mr. Murphy said. "He gave up something that was comfortable to pursue the mission of developing minority businesses."
Ms. Dent was one of the many people that benefited from Mr. Gaines' business expertise. He was instrumental in helping her start C.H. Terrell Academy almost 15 years ago, she said.
Mr. Gaines advised her in accounting, investments and marketing.
"He believed in black business and entrepreneurship," she said. "He always did what he set his mind to."
His work was important to him, but Mr. Gaines' role as husband and father was his main priority, Ms. Dent said.
His devotion to Augusta business development will live on, Mr. Murphy said.
"He helped establish and maintain some businesses that would not be here today if it weren't for him," he said.
Arrangements were incomplete for Mr. Gaines at Dent Funeral Home on Tuesday.
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