RICHMOND Reed Boatright, a spokesman for Gov. James S. Gilmore III in the final year of his administration, died Jan. 21 at his home in Roanoke. He was 58.
Mr. Boatright finished his duties as Mr. Gilmore’s top press aide earlier this month and moved to Roanoke, where he was to be married next month. He suffered a heart attack as he was hanging pictures in his new home, said Dick Leggitt, a former Gilmore adviser and longtime friend.
“This news comes as a great shock and is deeply saddening,” Mr. Gilmore said.
“Reed was a good friend and trusted adviser from the time of my campaign for governor to the last days of my administration. Reed served the people of Virginia with distinction in all he did. He will be greatly missed,” the former Republican governor said.
Mr. Boatright, a Cincinnati native, spent 30 years as a spokesman for government agencies and Republican political figures.
From 1971 to 1986, he held press office jobs for U.S. Sen. Robert Taft Jr. of Ohio and U.S. Rep. Norman Lent of New York and was chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Clint Roberts of South Dakota. He was public affairs director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through 1992 for President Bush.
He was deputy press secretary for Mr. Gilmore’s successful 1997 gubernatorial campaign, and after the election, he was deputy commissioner and chief spokesman for the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services.
He left the agency in May 2000 to manage Lt. Gov. John Hager’s unsuccessful campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. He left Mr. Hager’s campaign in March and became communications director for Mr. Gilmore. His final day on the job was Jan. 12, the day Mr. Gilmore’s term ended and Mark R. Warner took office.
“He was a rock and a true professional,” said Mr. Leggitt, a longtime Republican strategist who worked with Mr. Boatright. “He was totally unflappable. When everyone else was wringing their hands, he was steady as a rock.”
Funeral arrangements were incomplete last evening.