Missouri Department of Natural Resources director Carol Comer dies at 54

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Carol Comer, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, has died, Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday.

Comer, 54, had led the department since January 2017.

In a statement, Parson called her an “extraordinary individual.”

“Carol was an extremely talented and accomplished leader, and the entire state of Missouri grieves alongside her friends and family,” he said. “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.”

Neither DNR nor Parson’s office listed a cause of death. Comer had previously revealed a cancer diagnosis.

An attorney, she was commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for two years under then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence before being appointed to her Missouri position by former Gov. Eric Greitens. Comer also previously served as an administrative law judge in Indiana and represented companies in environmental matters.

DNR oversees air and water pollution regulations and runs the state’s historical preservation office and Missouri State Parks. Comer’s department biography highlights a focus on both environmental protections and business development.

“We plan to carry out her vision for the agency moving forward,” DNR spokeswoman Connie Patterson said.

On social media, tributes to Comer poured in from state lawmakers and officials.

The Department of Public Safety director’s office staff “got to see Carol Comer up close and often” as they shared an office with DNR, wrote a DPS representative on Twitter. “We will miss her enthusiasm and commitment to public service.”

The Star’s Jonathan Shorman contributed reporting.

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