Members of the area's public safety community are mourning the death of a woman who worked behind the scenes and enjoyed making people laugh.
Linda Kitchens McDonald died Tuesday at University Hospital. She was 55.
She served as an assistant director of the Richmond County Emergency Management Agency and was a captain with the Richmond County Fire Department.
The Okemah, Okla., native moved to Augusta in 1965.
On Thursday, Pam Tucker, the director of Columbia County Emergency Services, described her former co-worker as "always happy and positive."
"I worked with Linda for 28 years," said Mrs. Tucker, who headed Richmond County's EMA division for 21 years before assuming her current job in 1999.
"She was a great employee in all of her jobs. This is major loss to the community. She was a real hard worker who didn't mind working behind the scenes," Mrs. Tucker said.
Lt. Sharon Bennett, a supervisor at the Augusta 911 Center, also described Capt. McDonald as a "behind-the-scenes" employee who enjoyed pushing lower-ranking employees onto glory.
"No one has said anything negative about her. We've not only lost a co-worker, we've lost a fine friend," Lt. Bennett said.
Although Capt. McDonald was known for her intensity while working, Lt. Bennett said she had the ability to infuse humor and goodwill into her everyday life." And, she was always willing to help anyone."
She taught children's fire safety at several local elementary schools and was known as Cuddles the Clown when volunteering with the Joseph M. Still Jr. Burn Foundation.
Capt. McDonald is survived by her husband, James E. "Sonny" Howell, a Richmond County sheriff's investigator; two sons, Tony L. Kitchens of Augusta and Johnny McDonald Jr., a Columbia County sheriff's deputy.
Memorials may be made to the Lupus Foundation, 1800 Lake Park Drive, Suite 101, Smyrna, GA 30080, or to the Joseph M. Still Jr. Burn Foundation, 3651 Wheeler Rd., Augusta, GA 30909.
Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.