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MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker dies, agency announces

A MARTA spokeswoman issued a statement confirming his death.

ATLANTA — MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker has died, a spokeswoman confirmed early Saturday morning.

MARTA spokeswoman Stephany Fisher issued the following statement:

"With very heavy hearts, we share the official news of GM/CEO Jeffrey Parker’s tragic passing on Friday evening, January 14, 2022. Please keep his family in your prayers and meditations.

In the coming days, we will share more information on the transition plan, including grief counseling for employees as we process this devastating news.

Jeff cared deeply about MARTA and his leadership gave us a strong foundation from which to carry forward."

According to a statement by MARTA Board of Directors Chairwoman Rita Scott, Parker died by suicide. He leaves behind his wife Erin and his daughters, the statement said.

The MARTA Board of Directors grieves the shocking death of our GM/CEO Jeff Parker who has died by suicide. He was an outstanding leader and steward of MARTA whose passing leaves us all heartbroken. 

As Chairwoman and on behalf of my fellow MARTA board members, we are devastated at this loss as we valued Jeff’s leadership and looked forward to him bringing his vision for transit to fruition. The entire metro Atlanta region owes him a debt of gratitude for his transformational efforts and we will not stop working to build on the foundation he created.

As we struggle to understand the complexity of this tragedy, we grieve with and for his wife Erin, his daughters and all of Jeff’s family and friends as well as his MARTA family. As we continue to grieve, we want you to know that suicide is preventable and help is available to you. 

For access to services and immediate crisis help, call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225, available 24/7.

MARTA's Board of Directors said Collie Greenwood would be the interim CEO and General Manager during a special meeting on Saturday.

The MARTA Explorers Twitter account posted a photo showing flags at half staff outside MARTA headquarters.

According to his MARTA bio,  Parker was a "recognized national leader in transportation and transit" with more than 35 years of both private and public experience in the industry.

He was named MARTA CEO in March 2018 and received a three-year contract extension in November 2020.

Parker, a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, joined MARTA following a long career, beginning in 1985, with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 

"During his 20-year tenure at MBTA, he led various efforts to improve reliability, safety, security and customer service for the nation's oldest subway system," his MARTA bio said.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens issued a statement on Parker's passing:

"I am shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic death of my colleague and friend Jeff Parker," it said. "As MARTA's general manager and CEO, Jeff and I worked closely together when I chaired the Transportation Committee on City Council. Jeff understood that MARTA is more than just a transportation system, it represents connectivity for residents and visitors of our great city and region. My thoughts and prayers are with Jeff's family and friends, and with the staff and board of MARTA, during this very difficult time."

Gov. Brian Kemp said Parker was "known for his civic engagement and support for the advancement of his communities" and said he and his family were saddened to learn about his tragic passing.

Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock also tweeted out a statement saying Parker "did so much good to improve mobility and transit in our community."

The Atlanta City Council called his passing "profoundly heartbreaking."