BERKELEY (CBS SF) – Authorities say Berkeley’s city clerk died over the weekend after falling down a staircase in her home.
Thirty-seven-year-old Deanna Despain was found dead by her husband shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday, as their infant daughter slept in another room. She apparently had been dead for a few hours.
Police say there’s no signs of foul play in the couple’s Oakland home.
The Alameda County coroner’s office says preliminary autopsy results on Monday showed the fatal injuries were consistent with a fall.
City spokeswoman Mary Kay Clunies-Ross confirmed the Death Monday.
Clunies-Ross said Despain’s death was “very unexpected” but she didn’t immediately have more details.
Despain, became Berkeley’s acting city clerk in June 2008, succeeding Pamyla Means, and was officially appointed as city clerk on May 17, 2009.
Before becoming acting city clerk, Despain had served the city starting in September 2004 as the records manager, assistant city clerk and deputy city clerk.
Despain attended the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College, according to the City Council’s resolution that was passed when she was appointed.
As clerk, Despain was responsible for preparing agendas for city meetings, overseeing elections, managing records for the city and processing appointments to boards and committees.
Mayor Tom Bates said, “It’s really sad to hear the news because she was such a valuable employee and was truly liked in city politics. She had a pleasing way of getting along with people.”
Bates said Despain “was an excellent clerk and was skilled in untangling and interpreting the complicated resolutions passed by the City Council.”
He said, “The city’s staff is in shock and in mourning” after hearing about her death.
Bates said it’s especially sad that Despain’s daughter, who is less than a year old, will grow up without her.
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