Flags will be at half-staff and fire ladders will be arched over Main Street in London on Saturday in honor of the city’s longest-serving mayor.
David Eades died Tuesday at age 77, following a brief battle with cancer.
He was first elected mayor in 1992 and served 24 years in the job, retiring on Dec. 31, 2015. Prior to becoming mayor, he was a councilman for 10 years.
His tenure in the mayor’s office saw both change and challenges as London’s population grew from 7,800 to 9,900.
He made both friends and some opponents along the way. But this week all remember him as a dedicated public servant with the best interests of the city at heart.
Current Mayor Pat Closser posted condolences on Facebook and sent prayers to Eades’ friends and family.
“(He) did a lot of the Great City of London, not only as a mayor, but as a council member and a citizen,” Closser wrote. “The growth and opportunity he brought to our fine city during his tenure was immeasurable.”
Closser, also a former councilman, acknowledged that he and Eades did not always see eye to eye.
“But we always respected each other’s opinion,” he said.
Closser said he learned a lot from Eades about being mayor.
“When I was elected, he was there for me to help me with the transition of administrations,” he said. “He could have just let me figure things out on my own, but that’s not the man he was. He helped me through the process.”
Former council president John Dixon found Eades easy to work with. The two were associated for 15 years and became fast friends in the process.
“We always got along,” Dixon said.
Steve Hume was safety-services director for 17 of the years that Eades was in the mayor’s office. Hume found his boss careful and thorough.
“He stopped to think before he made a decision,” Hume said. “Everything he did was in the best interest of the city.”
State Sen. Bob Hackett, who represents Madison County as part of Ohio’s 10th District, agreed.
“Dave was one of the classiest guys I ever met,” Hackett said. “He was always trying to do his best for the city. He was a great mayor.”
London was on the brink of a major expansion when Eades came into office.
“He oversaw a slow and steady growth,” Hume noted.
Prior to his retirement in 2015, Eades listed the accomplishments of which he was most proud. They included procuring $10 million in CHIP grants to improve residential housing in the city, as well as money for an upgraded Main Street streetscape.
Eades was especially proud of fostering the Keny Boulevard extension that linked State Route 38 and U.S. Route 42, despite opposition. He hoped the boulevard could eventually extend to State Route 56, giving London an “outerbelt” of sorts.
While a majority of residents supported Eades through six elections, he was often at odds with city council.
Friction arose early in his tenure when council refused to continue funding a probe of the police department by a private investigator, Hume recalled.
Controversy and lawsuits flew. In the end, the city got a judgment against the investigator and then-police chief Ron Cooper retired.
A widower since 2002, Eades focused much of his spare time and energy on standard-bred racing. He was a member of the Madison County Harness Horseman’s Association and the US Trotting Association. Eades and his late brother John, a professional trainer, sent several horses to the races over the years.
Greg Eades found it ironic that his dad’s latest track offering, a three-year-old filly named All Gussied Up, debuted at Scioto Downs within a day of Eades passing.
“He really wanted to (live long enough) to see her race,” the younger Eades said.
The filly came in fifth, passing three other horses in the home stretch.
“Dad would have been very happy with that,” Greg Eades said.
Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Madison Press.
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