Chester Brazzell, Augusta’s deputy administrator since April 2015, was found dead at his home Thursday.
Brazzell, 63, might have suffered a fall, but an autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death, Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen said.
After Brazzell didn’t appear at staff meetings, City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson sent someone Thursday to check on Brazzell, whose immediate family is in Midlothian, Va., Bowen said.
City employees reported shock and sadness at the sudden loss of Brazzell, who’d been Jackson’s only deputy administrator since April.
“I’m still gathering my thoughts about it – I’m just in total shock,” said Patrick Stephens, director of Augusta Public Transit. “I’m sure the entire Augusta team is shocked. It’s a critical loss.”
Jackson’s office announced Brazzell’s unexpected death about 2:30 p.m.
“We are shocked and terribly saddened,” she said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time of tragedy.”
Brazzell was “a solid rock in this office since his arrival,” Jackson said, “and has helped guide our public safety and administrative departments. He quickly moved to help keep our administration running smoothly by assuming numerous additional responsibilities following the recent departure of his counterpart Ted Rhinehart.”
Commissioner Marion Williams said he was performing a funeral service when he learned about Brazzell.
“It’s very unfortunate what happened. We just never know what death is; that’s why we’ve got to do what’s right,” Williams said.
Brazzell’s long career in government management began at Atlanta City Hall in the 1970s. He later served as purchasing director in Savannah, as assistant Chatham County, Ga., manager and as director of general services and human resources for the city of Richmond, Va.
Brazzell spent nine years in the private sector as a human resources vice president prior to Jackson’s selection of him in March 2015 to serve as one of two deputy city administrators.
Funeral arrangements for Brazzell were not known Thursday.