Former Eureka City Councilman Lance Madsen -- known to colleagues for his open mind, dry humor, and dedication to the city -- died over the weekend, city officials announced today.
"All of us at the city are in mourning because Lance was a stellar community member," interim City Manager Mike Knight said.
Madsen, 65, died Saturday evening after battling lung disease, according to Mayor Frank Jager.
"It's a big loss for the community," Jager said. "When you have people like that who are willing to give so much to the community, it hurts us all."
The Eureka native served a total of 11 years on the Eureka City Council -- from 1990 to 1998 and from 2010 to 2013 -- before stepping down in December for health reasons. His term would have ended in November 2014. He worked for the Eureka Police Department for 14 years as an officer and child abuse investigator and for the Eureka Housing Authority for 25 years.
Madsen also was involved in the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods, the Land Bridge Alliance, the Eureka Redevelopment Advisory Board, the city's waterfront revitalization project and most recently, the East-West rail project.
Councilman Mike Newman -- who was mentored by Madsen while running for the Third Ward in 2010 -- said Madsen had a knack for injecting humor into serious situations.
"I think that comes from his policing background of trying to make a bad situation better without it getting out of hand," Newman said.
After being elected to the council in 2010, Madsen worked to improve the city's unemployment rate and find a solution to the homeless situation.
"Had he lived or not had this disease, he probably would have continued serving on the council, he probably would have run for another term," Jager said.
Madsen became the first recipient of the Mayor's Community Award of Merit in March, an honor given to a Eureka resident who does outstanding work for the city during their lifetime or for a certain project.
The city's flags will be lowered to half-staff until Madsen's funeral is held, Knight said.
A viewing will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday at Pierce Mortuary at 707 H St. in Eureka. A rosary service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday at St. Bernard Catholic Church at 615 H St. in Eureka, followed by Madsen's funeral. The public is invited to attend.
"We're going to miss him dearly," Knight said.
Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.