Lay, who was 69 years old, suffered an apparent heart attack this morning.
A beloved member of the community and a well-respected emergency management expert across the state and nation, he served as the Director of Emergency Management for Brevard County since April 1997 and led the county through countless emergency situations including hurricanes and wildfires.
“I can think of no other single person who impacted more lives in such a positive way here in Brevard County. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bob’s wife Patti, his family, and all those who are missing him right now,” said County Manager Howard Tipton.
Prior to his employment with Brevard County, Lay was employed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and served as the manager of the Disaster Field Office in Albany, Georgia during the floods of 1994.
After an Army career as a helicopter pilot in which he served three tours in Vietnam, he retired from the United States Army as a colonel in August 1994. During his last assignment, while serving as the Commander of the United States Army Readiness Group, Patrick, he also served as the Department of Defense Coordinating Officer, responsible for coordination of all disaster response and recovery missions assigned to the Department of Defense in wildfires in Georgia, and in Hurricane Andrew in south Florida.
Former Governor Lawton Childs appointed Lay to the Governor’s Wildfire Response and Mitigation Review Committee following wildfires in 1998, and he represented the Central Florida Region as Emergency Management Co-Chair for Central Florida Regional Domestic Security Task Force since 1999. He served on the Regional Local Emergency Planning Committee and on the Joint Toxic Hazard Control Team representing the public surrounding Kennedy Space Center and Canaveral Air Force Station. He was instrumental in establishing unity of effort and regionalization of resources within the Central Florida Regional Domestic Security Task Force area.
Lay was recognized by the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association as the Emergency Management Professional of the Year for 2003 and received a Distinguished Service Award from the National Hurricane Conference 2004 for outstanding leadership in response to hurricanes Charlie, Frances and Jeanne.
He was the President of Ascension Lutheran Church’s Congregational Council and served on the Board of Directors of the Community Service Council and the Eastern Florida Maritime Area Security Committee, as well as representing Emergency Management on FEMA’s National Advisory Council.
He is survived by his wife Patti, two sons, a daughter, and three grandchildren.
Memorial Service Arrangements Set for Emergency Management Director Lay