Deborah Marshall won’t be returning to work as Columbia County’s elections director.
Convalescing at home since April 9 surgery on a malignant brain tumor, Marshall retired at the end of the year, said Columbia County Board of Elections Chairman Larry Long.
“The family elected to have her retire on the 29th of December,” Long said. “It’s very difficult. It’s not what we had hoped would be the outcome – that she would recover and return to her position.”
Marshall had been on leave, and after using up her own had been using leave time donated by other employees, said County Administrator Scott Johnson.
“It’s unfortunate,” Johnson said. “She’s loved by everyone. It’s been tough. It’s been tough for everyone. She was a mainstay in this county. She was a good friend to a lot of folks, a good friend of mine. It’s just sad.”
Marshall, 49, was hospitalized April 6 after suffering from severe headaches. After the April 9 surgery for partial removal of the tumor, called a glioblastoma multiforme, she also received chemotherapy and was released from Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center in June to her Appling home.
A lifelong Appling resident, Marshall had been an elections staffer since 1984 and was appointed executive director in 2000.
The director’s position now is being advertised, and a new hire could be in place “in another month or two,” Johnson said.
Other staffers in the Board of Elections office have handled the office’s duties in Marshall’s absence, including working through the 2012 election season. That effort earned the department Columbia County’s Team of the Year for 2012, to be awarded Tuesday at the county commission meeting.
“The fact that we were able to continue, especially in a presidential election year,” is a credit to Marshall’s leadership that included an insistence on cross-training staff members, Long said.
“We hope to be able to continue on with the vision that she set forth for the department,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult to fill her shoes.”