Lawrence County commissioner Pratt dies
IRONTON — Lawrence County Commissioner William “Bill” Pratt, 45, of Chesapeake, Ohio, died Friday night, according to county officials.
Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said his office received a call at about 7 p.m. Friday regarding a shooting at 2868 County Road 35 in Chesapeake. When deputies arrived, they found Pratt had suffered a single gunshot wound that appeared to be self-inflicted.
Lawrence County EMS arrived at the scene, Lawless said, providing care to Pratt before taking him to Cabell Huntington Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Pratt was appointed commissioner in April 2011 when Jason Stephens was elected county auditor. Prior to that, he served on the Chesapeake Board of Education, the Collins Career Center Board and the Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority for 14 years.
According to his obituary, as commissioner, Pratt also served on the Tri-State Airport Authority, the Lawrence County Community Action Organization, the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation, and many other boards.
He graduated from Chesapeake High School and Ohio State University, where he obtained a degree in dairy science. The sixth-generation farmer from Getaway and fourth-generation dairy farmer had been an advocate for dairy farming in the county, which has decreased in recent years.
Although no foul play is suspected at this time, Lawless said the case will remain under investigation with the assistance of Lawrence County Coroner Dr. Ben Mack.
“Our hearts are deeply saddened at the loss of our good friend,” Lawless said in a news release.
Pratt was vocal on his Facebook page in the months leading up to his death about being diagnosed with depression and having suicidal thoughts, which he said included one moment when he almost took his own life. He encouraged the Lawrence County community to find a network of people they could call whenever they needed to talk or needed help.
“This is a personal story, and I tell you this because I’m here to tell you and to help those that need it. I can’t say there is one single way to escape depression,” he wrote. “I think time does it, to be honest. But you struggle to pass that time.”
Commissioners Freddie Hayes Jr. and Deanna Holliday issued a joint statement via Facebook on Friday night.
“We are heartbroken over the passing of our friend and colleague, Commissioner Bill Pratt,” it read. “We earnestly pray for his family and send our heartfelt condolences to them. Our county feels the loss of this valued public servant. We urge all to pray for his family in their bereavement and also for their future.”
The Lawrence County, Ohio, Republicans issued a statement about his passing Friday.
“Words cannot express how heavy our hearts are tonight at the devastating news of the passing of Lawrence County Commissioner Bill Pratt,” it read. “He loved Lawrence County, and we loved him. We will all miss him dearly. Please keep the Pratt family in your prayers.”
A funeral service was held Wednesday, to be followed by a private family burial will be on Pratt Family Farm in South Point.
“Our hearts are deeply saddened at the loss of our good friend.”
Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless