MERIDEN — A candidate in last month’s municipal election died suddenly over the weekend.
Geetha Kittrell, 68, died Sunday night from a stroke she suffered Friday night, according to Lois DeMayo, chairwoman of We the People Party. Kittrell ran for a City Council seat in Area 1 as a We the People candidate, losing to Democratic incumbent Sonya Jelks.
A Meriden resident for the past 12 years, Kittrell was the first female officer on the Hamden Police Department.
According to DeMayo, Kittrell suffered a “mini-stroke” during her council campaign, which she didn’t notice, before suffering a massive stroke Friday night.
“I’m floored, I really am,” DeMayo said Monday. “It’s such a shame, she was such a nice person.”
Kittrell’s neighbor and friend, Beth Bryan, was also shocked to hear of her death, adding Kittrell was an “amazing, wonderful, rare” person.
“Anybody that knew her just loved her. You knew when you talked to her you could count on her,” Bryan said. “I feel really, really fortunate that she allowed me to call her my friend.”
Army vet, retired officer
Kittrell, a Hamden native, lived on Linsley Avenue and was retired from a career in law enforcement. After serving three years in the U.S. Army, she became Hamden’s first female police officer. After retiring as an officer, she worked as a legal assistant and private investigator for several law firms, focusing on criminal law and personal injury.
Bryan, who ran unsuccessfully in Area 1 as a Republican in 2017, approached Kittrell earlier this year about running in Area 1, which covers the city’s downtown. Bryan thought Kittrell would be a good councilor because she had a “calm but forceful presence” and an “ability to get along with everybody and really listen and hear.”
“She was one of those rare candidates that comes along and can get along with everybody,” Bryan said. “She was very strong, but she didn't throw it in your face.”
Kittrell was compelled to get involved in politics because she cared about her community and neighbors, Bryan and DeMayo said. Bryan recalled that Kittrell, who had one child and three grandchildren, often looked out for kids and neighbors on her street.
“If there was a kid who needed food or needed something to wear, she was right there and was always willing to open her door,” Bryan said. “She was like one of those people that you read about and never believe exist.”