Linden mourns councilman

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 19, 2006

The absence of Howard Walters from Tuesday’s Linden City Council meeting left more than an empty seat. For those who have worked with Walters during his two terms in office, it left an empty spot in their hearts.

Walters died Monday morning of an apparent heart attack in his Linden home. Since his death, the city has operated on a somber tone.

Walters was the kind of man who always wanted the city to overcome obstacles without creating new ones, Linden Mayor Pat Vice said.

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“He was very cooperative and never caused problems,” Vice said. “If there was a problem he dealt with it head on.”

The loss of Walters, Vice said, would leave big shoes to fill.

“We are going to have a tough time replacing him,” Vice said. “We all have to come and go, it just seemed like he went too early.”

During his time on the council, City Administrator Cheryl Hall said, Walters was always a pleasure to work with. She said he always approached people with a lighthearted attitude.

“He was always a really likeable guy,” Hall said. “He was the kind of guy you could pick on and he would pick back. We always had a really good relationship with him.”

During the Tuesday meeting, Hall said, it felt like a member of the family was gone. She said seeing the empty chair was hard on everyone.

“We are really going to miss him,” Walters said. “It was hard to look across the table last night and not see him sitting in that chair.”

Walters, who was 70 years old, spent a lot of time serving the city and county. He was a member of the Marengo County Rescue Squad for over 20 years and was in his second term with the council. He was a friend to council members who had been around for a while and a source of encouragement for the newcomers.

When Mitzi Gates joined the council in July of 2005, she said Walters was always willing to lend a helpful ear and offer advice.

“I hadn’t worked with him on the council for that long, but in that time he was always helpful,” Gates said. “He always told me not to get discouraged and to just listen and I would learn everything I needed to know. He was always positive and upbeat.”

The loss of Walters, Gates said, had taken everyone by surprise.

“It’s just so unbelievable,” Gates said. “He was always such a vibrant man.”

Funeral arrangements for Walters had not been released as of Wednesday.