Jay Powell, the Republican chairman of the Georgia House Rules Committee, suddenly collapsed and died Monday morning during a legislative leaders retreat at Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, which is located just north of Young Harris. He was 67.
The Towns County Sheriff’s Office requested that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) look into the death. GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said, “We should have more information available following an autopsy.”
Powell was sworn into office in 2008, and has served in the Georgia House of Representatives since 2009. He represented House District 171 in Camilla, which includes portions of Colquitt, Decatur, and Mitchell counties. Powell previously served as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the primary tax-writing committee. He is survived by his wife, Deidra.
Tributes Poured In From Both Republican & Democratic Politicians On Twitter
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp tweeted, “Chairman Powell was a trusted leader and compassionate public servant whose work positively impacted countless people’s lives over the years. His loss is devastating to Georgia. The Kemp family asks everyone to lift up Jay’s loved ones, friends, and fellow legislators in prayer as they try to grapple with this tragedy.”
House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, wrote a letter of his condolences. Ralston wrote,
“Dear Friends, It is with profound sadness and a broken heart that I write to inform you of the passing of our colleague, dear friend and brother Jay Powell. Jay collapsed last night at a Caucus leadership retreat, and from all indications, passed immediately. At this time of heartbreak, we take solace in the fact that our brother is now with out Los Jesus Christ. We life up his wife Deidra and his beloved family. We pray for God’s mercies and comfort for them. I know this loss touches us all and leaves a hole in our hearts and in the heart of our House family. Jay Powell served with integrity and his leadership truly moved Georgia forward. We will get through this together, with God’s grace. If you need anything, please reach our to one of our fellow members. We will support one another as we grieve and celebrate his life together.”
Rep. Scott Holcomb, a Democrat from Atlanta, said “Chairman Powell treated everyone with kindness and respect. He tried to find common ground and he deeply cared about our state and its people. His loss is crushing for the House.”
Republican Congressman Doug Collins, who represents Georgia’s 9th District tweeted, “Jay Powell was not only a respected leader in Georgia, but more importantly, my dear friend & brother. When he was elected, he was seated next to me on the floor. Over those many hours on the floor, he shared his thoughts about life, law & politics that made me a better person.”
Georgia’s official GOP account tweeted, “We are truly saddened by the loss of Chairman Jay Powell. His years of leadership and service to Georgia will not be forgotten.”
Powell is the Second Rules Committee Chairman To Die In The Last Year
Powell’s predecessor, Chairman John Meadows of Calhoun, died last November at age 74. He previously served as a U.S. Marine, and spent 13 years as mayor of Calhoun. His 5th District seat included Gordon and Murray counties in north Georgia.