OAKDALE — Elmo Garcia, a fixture in Oakdale politics since the 1960s, died Tuesday. He was 74.
Friends and former colleagues remembered him as a "hands-on" mayor who cared deeply about Oakdale.
He served 10 years as Oakdale's mayor through 1994, when doctors discovered a benign tumor that kept him from seeking re-election that year.
He returned to city government in 1996, when he served one term as a councilman. Mr. Garcia, an Oakdale native, previously had served 16 years as a councilman beginning in 1968.
His wife, Alice Garcia, said Mr. Garcia kept an open door for residents. He was proud to have a hand in keeping a balanced budget, building a park in east Oakdale and opening a senior center, she said.
"I remember one night somebody complained about the sewer stinking. He went down and smelled it, and he took care of it," Alice Garcia remembered, laughing.
"He just wanted to make sure the city was run right," she said. "He loved the city, and he loved politics."
Oakdale Mayor Farrell Jackson, who served with Mr. Garcia on the City Council in the late 1990s, said he continued to seek advice from Mr. Garcia in recent years.
"I'm going to miss having his opinion," Jackson said.
"Elmo was a good guy. And he was genuinely interested, and if he saw something going awry he was going to speak up about it," Jackson said.
Wes Stewart, who served on the Oakdale council in the 1960s, said Mr. Garcia was a "hard-working person, and he worked his way up to being mayor."
"He was my good friend and we're all going to miss him very much."
Alice Garcia and her husband were neighbors growing up. They married at age 17, and recently celebrated their 58th anniversary. He earned a living as a real estate broker.
"It's been a good life with all of us," she said. "Ours is really a tight-knit family."
Alice Garcia said her husband had fought cancer for the past nine years.
He is survived by three children, four grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
An open funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Oakdale Memorial Chapel, 830 W. F St.
Bee Assistant City Editor Adam Ashton can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2366.