The chairman of our county board is Bill Larson. He was seated at the East end of the table when I won my election 2 years ago. I've always liked Bill. He had what I call a 'big' personality. He served on a lot of boards and if he wasn't the chairman of the board, it was because he didn't want to be the chairman of the board. People seemed to be drawn to him. A natural leader.
I would walk into the room with 'County Board Room' painted on the door, and I was always greeted with a smile and Bill's booming voice. "Hello Supervisor Morrow". I'd say "Good morning Chairman Larson".
Bill always said everything emphatically and with excitement. He wouldn't mumble "nice weather we've been having" instead he would boom out "Hasn't this weather been won-der-ful"!
I admired the way he ran meetings. We've had some contentious public hearings and just about the time someone would give a hint that they were going to go over the edge and get 'personal' with their argument, Bill would produce a gavel, and at just the right moment he would bang it on the table, thank everyone for coming, and say the hearing is now over. "The board has heard what they need to hear".
You could tell a lot about Bill by what he talked about casually, off the cuff, when the press doesn't have a pen and paper handy. Bill liked to talk about Burt County, the County Fair (which he ran, for as long as I can remember) the various boards and committees that he chaired or sat on, but most importantly, he talked about his family. His wife, and his kids.
When he talked of going to a meeting, he wouldn't say he went to Kearney. Instead he'd say "Virginia and I went to that meeting in Kearney last week". He started many sentences with "I said to Virginia, or Kirby and I or....
Bill had medical complications. Last summer, he kept coming to nearly all of the meetings even though they had removed part of his foot. Then he had to go on Dialysis. But through it all he missed very few meetings except for the last two.
Tonight, when Marilyn and I got home, I had a message from one of the other board members that Bill had passed away. I am deeply saddened. It's hard to loose people who have made a difference.
There is little doubt that Burt County, the Burt County Fair, his Church, the Nebraska Association of County Officials, the various boards and committees that he sat on, and the State of Nebraska for that matter, are better off because we had Bill with us for his time.
They say when you die that it's like taking your hand out of a pan of water, it fills in as though your hand was never there. Well even though the hole Bill leaves, will eventually fill in, it's not going to happen quickly and it will take more than one man to fill it. In this case the hand was just too big.
I know he had to be tired of feeling bad. I'm just glad I got the chance to know him. Farewell Chairman Larson.