The issue: The sad and unfortunate passing of Lansing Mayor Billy Blackwell, who died Saturday at 61 years old.
Our view: Volunteerism and public service are becoming increasingly rare in this fast-paced, ever-changing and demanding society. Blackwell's lengthy service to city and country should be appreciated and commended.
It was supposed to be a day of exceptional weather, a preview of the summer months to come, community outreach, and family-friendly fun.
But, the Lansing Fishing Derby took an unfortunate turn Saturday, through the fault of nothing other than fate.
Mayor Billy Blackwell was transported from the community event to the hospital, due to a cause yet to be released. The mayor was 61 years old.
The Leavenworth Times offers its condolences and sympathies to Blackwell's family — he is survived by a wife, son and two grandchildren — and to Lansing staffers and city council members, with whom he worked closely throughout the years.
Death, by its nature, is generally unexpected, offering little warning or time to prepare.
Council President Gene Kirby will serve out the remaining 2.5 years of Blackwell's term as mayor beginning Thursday night, when he's sworn in.
In a comment distributed Monday morning, the incoming mayor talked about the challenge of balancing grieving for Blackwell with maintaining city services.
"Mayor Blackwell's untimely passing will be a hurdle our city needs to clear," he said. "I am hopeful that city staff and I can try our best to fill the void that Billy's passing has left. He will be truly missed."
The newspaper makes no judgement on Blackwell's leadership or politics.
However, there is a remarkable trait about the late mayor we believe should be highlighted — his public service.
Blackwell served as a city council member for eight years before he was elected mayor in 2012.
He also served as a Lansing Police Department reserve officer for three years, Lansing Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member for three years, and a member of various steering and bid committees.
The South Carolina native retired from the U.S. Army in 2001 as a lieutenant colonel.
Whether it was community or country, Blackwell, it seems, knew the importance of public service and was there to contribute in a multitude of ways.
At a time when society moves faster than most of us would like, when time is as valuable a commodity as anything, Blackwell gave of himself through service.
Godspeed, Mayor Blackwell, and thank you for giving at a time when so many do not.