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Former director of Keep Hall Beautiful dies at 57

POSTED: April 8, 2008 5:00 a.m.
GAINESVILLE — A champion for keeping Hall County a clean community died Thursday afternoon following a months-long illness.

Until recently, Marsha Fletcher, 57, served as the executive director for Keep Hall Beautiful, but her illness forced her to step down from the position she had held for more than a decade.

As executive director, Fletcher served her community, volunteering in community cleanups, steering school education programs focused on recycling and helping to make crimes against the environment prosecutable in Hall County, said her friend Cheryl McNeal, who volunteered with Fletcher on some Keep Hall Beautiful projects over the years.

McNeal said Fletcher’s enthusiasm for a clean environment was contagious.

"She really educated me on things I had no idea of, and I spread it to my family and friends," McNeal said.

Fletcher’s love for the environment stemmed from a love for her son and grandson, said Jan Gilmer, the former project coordinator for Keep Hall Beautiful.

"The environment was important to her because she was concerned about (her grandson) Connor," Gilmer said. "She said she was concerned not only about her child, but her grandchild and his future, and she said that was the reason she worked so hard on it."

Fletcher lived for Connor, often bringing him to the office with her while she worked.

"He was the love of her life," McNeal said.

Dennis Fletcher, Marsha Fletcher’s husband of 37 years, experienced firsthand her dedication to the organization. Fletcher said his wife implemented many programs for Keep Hall Beautiful during her time with the organization.

"She did a lot; she worked a lot of hours for them, that’s for sure," Fletcher said. "She volunteered me for a lot of them."

Fletcher said it was Marsha Fletcher’s love for the community that got her involved with Keep Hall Beautiful, and before she was executive director, she worked for the organization part time.

"She liked to help people in the community, you know?" Fletcher said. "She was that type of person."

Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann, who worked community cleanups with Marsha Fletcher regularly, also described her as "a conscientious person."

Marsha Fletcher had been in the hospital since December, and had only been home three weeks before she was back in the intensive care unit. All through her health problems, Marsha Fletcher hoped to get back to her work with Keep Hall Beautiful, Dennis Fletcher said.

"I guess she thought she could go back to work there, but it never did work out," he said.

Marsha Fletcher’s death had her friends in a state of shock Thursday afternoon. Those were the ones who remembered Marsha Fletcher as an intelligent, inquisitive and outgoing woman who "really knew her stuff."

"We’ll miss Marsha greatly," Wangemann said. "She was a good leader, and she believed in keeping the community clean. She was the right person for her time."

Keep Hall Beautiful will move forward with its new executive director, Cindy Reed, but those who worked with Fletcher will remember with fondness their past leader.

"It’s been a blow, but she’s been very ill," Gilmer said. "I hope she’s at peace now."



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