Word came across that lung disease took the life of Marshalltown Mayor Gene Beach on Aug. 4, 2012.
Beach served as mayor since January 2006 and was a dedicated leader in the town. He was always willing to stand his ground if he thought it was best for the community and loved Marshalltown to its core.
"In a way we lost one of the best ambassadors you can ever have," said City Administrator Randy Wetmore. "He was so passionate and he loved this city."
T-R FILE PHOTO
Mayor Gene Beach is interviewed during an Orpheum Theater event in 2011. Beach died on Aug 4. 2012.
Beach, who died at the age of 71, would often say he had the best job in the world.
His widow, Kay Beach, was overwhelmed by the community support for her after Gene's death. She was even named grand marshal of the Oktemberfest parade in September to honor Gene's legacy.
"Through this whole experience I have come to understand even more than I already did why Gene loved this community, because they have been incredibly kind and supportive to me," Kay Beach said after being named grand marshal.
Even President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the family of Beach when he arrived in Marshalltown on a campaign stop on Aug. 14.
Arlene McAtee, who volunteered for decades with Beach with the Marshalltown Community Theatre, called his death "a huge loss for the whole community."
Beach's death led to the appointment by the Marshalltown City Council of former mayor Tommy Thompson as interim mayor on Sept. 10. Thompson then was elected by voters on Nov. 6 to serve out the remaining one year left on Beach's term.
"Gene had us set in a pretty good direction so Tommy has been able to take up right where Gene left off," Wetmore said.
Beach's last year in office saw many needed road projects addressed and the big announcement of Marshalltown being named an All-America City, which had him full of pride for the community.
Wetmore said Beach's legacy with the city staff goes beyond road projects and recognitions.
"We still talk about him," Wetmore said. "One of the things we talk about from time to time is we miss his jokes."