The manager of the Salato Wildlife Education Center in Frankfort drowned over the weekend near Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Laurie Davison, 52, of Lexington, was pulled from the ocean Sunday morning, Horry County chief deputy coroner Tamara Willard told local media outlets.
Davison was on vacation with her family in South Carolina, said Tim Slone, a director of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
"I was her boss but also her friend," Slone said. "She is going to be greatly missed."
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Davison joined the center in 2000, and she had a hand in shaping everything the center has done in the past 15 years, Slone said.
Davison basically lit the way in making the center what it is today, Fish and Wildlife spokesman Mark Marraccini said.
"She was a valuable member of our fish and wildlife community," Marraccini said. "All wildlife was important to Laurie."
Davison is survived by two children and her partner, Marraccini said. Funeral information was unavailable at press time.