Martha Pryor-Cook, director of social services for Orange County since 1987, died Thursday morning at the age of 54 after suffering from an extended illness.
Pryor-Cook's 13-year career serving the county was marked by several awards and a variety of positions in community organizations.
Orange County Commissioner Stephen Halkiotis lamented Pryor-Cook's passing and spoke fondly of her commitment to the community.
"She was a real good human being," he said. "And you know, there aren't many of those on the face of the earth."
"Her untimely death is a tragic loss for Orange County and North Carolina."
Commissioner Moses Carey spoke fondly of Pryor-Cook's career and dedication to residents.
"Marti had a talent for reaching out to the community and building strong working relationships," he said. "Her sensitivity to her clients, her strong work ethic and her ability to get things done were a gift to the citizens of Orange County."
Pryor-Cook's colleagues also have praised the leadership excellence she demonstrated.
"She provided leadership on every social issue in the community," said Dee Gamble, chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Social Services.
Her accomplishments as social services director include developing the Friends of the Department of Social Services program, opening the county's Skills Development Center and successfully steering welfare reform, among others.
Co-workers also commented on the excellent precedent set by Pryor-Cook.
"Though we will miss her deeply, we are comforted in knowing that Marti's efforts will endure with a system of social services more responsive to those citizens who are economically disadvantaged or in need of protection from abuse or neglect," said County Manager John Link.
Pryor-Cook's family will receive visitors from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Mount Bright Baptist Church in Hillsborough.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, also at Mount Bright Church. Pryor-Cook's burial will take place in her hometown of Maplesville, Ala.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial contributions be sent to the Orange County Friends of the Department of Social Services or the Heusner Endowment Fund.
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