Racine County Executive dies at 51

Jonathan Delagrave was in his third term as county's leader

Jonathan Delagrave
Jonathan Delagrave. Photo courtesy of Racine County

Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave died unexpectedly of natural causes early Friday morning, according to his office.

Delagrave was 51, and was in the middle of his third term as the county’s top elected official. 

By state law, Racine County Board Chair Tom Kramer will assume the role of county executive for the next 30 days. After that, an interim executive is expected to be appointed.

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Kramer was at a Wisconsin Counties Association meeting in Stevens Point when he got the word of the passing.

“It was a shock to everybody,” Kramer said Friday afternoon. “Everybody is just kind of reeling right now.”

At the time of his death, Delagrave was working to ensure passage of an expensive package of capital projects which he called crucial to the continued success of the county.

“He was very forward thinking,” said Kramer. “He knew what the county needed. He was always there leading the staff, county board and municipalities to the next level of excellence.”

The county’s statement announcing the death described Delagrave as a “remarkable leader, devoted public servant and cherished friend.”

Delagrave was born in Racine County and spent most of his life there. After holding several county positions, Delagrave became director of the county’s human services department in 2010. He also served on the Caledonia Town Board, leading the transformation of the town to a village.

He was first elected county executive in 2015.

In a statement, Racine Mayor Cory Mason said he and Jonathan knew each other as 14-year-olds at Case High School.

“As mayor, it has been an honor to serve alongside him in his role as county executive,” Mason said. “Jonathan was an amazing leader for Racine County. We are all at a loss from his passing. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”

Kramer said he and Delagrave had known each other since the late 1990s.

“He always said Racine County gave him more than he ever gave Racine County,” Kramer said. “But that’s wrong. Racine County got more out of Jonathan Delagrave than anybody could believe.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the term Delagrave was serving at the time of his death. This story was originally published by wgtd.org.