Barry Wood, Hall County’s public information officer, died Monday following a monthslong battle with lung cancer.
Wood, 55, had been on leave from his county position in the weeks preceding his death, but Hall County’s Assistant County Administrator Phil Sutton said Tuesday that news of Wood’s death was a shock to county officials.
"We knew that Barry was not likely to return — his wife told us that several weeks ago — but we were not anticipating that this would happen so quickly," Sutton said.
Wood served seven years as the county’s government and community affairs officer, managing TV18, updating the county’s Web site and working as the government’s contact with the media, Sutton said.Sutton described Wood as a delightful, soft-spoken gentleman who never deterred from his businesslike manner.
He called Wood a "skilled writer" who was "always willing to help out wherever he could."
"I think everybody appreciated Barry ... We’ll miss him deeply ... He was a great support to the commission and the administration," Sutton said.
Hall County Commissioner Steve Gailey echoed Sutton’s sentiments, saying that Wood always was willing to help with research whenever Gailey needed something for a speech.
"He was a good person. He never got personal with anything (as far as commission politics). He just did his job," Gailey said.
A number of county employees have been helping out with Wood’s duties in his absence, and Sutton said he did not know when the county would begin looking for Wood’s replacement.
"It was quite a surprise for him to turn so quickly," Sutton said. "None of us were ready ... It’s quite a shock to the staff, and I think his family as well."
Wood will be buried in Virginia, but funeral details have not yet been released.