There's a reason people have been speaking so glowingly the past few days about our late Mayor Gene Beach, because he deserved it.
Beach succumbed to complications from lung disease Saturday afternoon at the age of 71, surrounded by his family at the University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City.
Area residents on social networking sites have been quick to point out the legacy he left in town and how much he'll be missed.
In my five years here at the Times-Republican, I never covered the Marshalltown City Council, though I've had plenty of interaction with Beach and have interviewed him dozens of times on stories.
One thing I'll remember about Beach was he was always straightforward and didn't sugarcoat his answers to me. It's very refreshing to talk to somebody who tells you how he feels, and not what he thinks you want to hear.
Also, it came through in those interviews that he was always passionate about Marshalltown. He wasn't the type of mayor that sought the spotlight, though sometimes he couldn't avoid it, especially if he thought it was best for the city. He stood firm on his beliefs on what was best for Marshalltown, even if at times he got some flak about them. He would not shy away from an argument if he needed to get his point across, but seldom carried a grudge after the discussion.
The last time I talked to him was a few weeks ago. I was able to be the first one to tell him that Marshalltown received the All-America City status. I could tell even over the phone that he was beaming with pride.
I can't say I was that close to the mayor, but anyone who knew him, even just as an acquaintance, has to respect him. He served his country, he served the community and was also a teacher. Not a bad combination, and I didn't even talk about his cooking shows on television or love of the Marshalltown Community Theatre.
I'll end this column by paraphrasing something his wife, Marshalltown School Board President Kay Beach, once told a group of retiring teachers. She said you were put on this earth to make a difference and you did it.
Well, the same could be said for Gene, which is clearly evident by the impact he had on our community. We are all better for having him lead our town for more than six years, and I wish his wife Kay and the rest of his family the best during this difficult time.
Reporter Andrew Potter is a Tuesday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org