The note caught me by surprise.
Wendell town Commissioner Ira Fuller was dropping out of the race for re-election because of a “recently discovered health issue.”
That’s kind of frightening. I talked to Ira a little while after I got the note and learned some of the details of what was going on. Heart problems were setting him back a little. He’ll have surgery this week, if he hasn’t already had it by the time this edition of the newspaper hits your driveway.
We talked Tuesday, Sept. 17, about the strides medicine has made in our lifetimes (Yes, his is a little longer than mine.) We agreed that medicine has, indeed, made great improvement.
But Ira is a pragmatist, if nothing else. How else can you explain a town manager who hangs on to his job for 19 years?
Despite the good chances Ira has at a full recovery, he knows something else could happen, too. He doesn’t want to start something he can’t finish, a trait I find admirable in any person.
Thinking about a town board government without Ira Fuller somehow involved is a picture that’s hard to envision for a lot of people.
Fuller was the police chief in my earliest memories of him. He was the definition of officialness in my early years. Though he didn’t know me then, I knew who he was. And I knew, given his job, I didn’t want to know him any better than I did!
He later became the town manager, a fact that I knew about when it happened, but one that didn’t mean much to me because I didn’t know towns had managers and I didn’t know what they did. I did know they were the boss of the police chief, so I knew Ira was bettering himself. Still, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to stop being a police officer.
In more recent years, Fuller, his bureaucratic years behind him, turned to politics, although he’s never been particularly prone to all the wheeling and dealing that goes on in politics.
As the town board was closing the book on a particularly ugly and divisive chapter in Wendell politics, Fuller was seen as the steady hand who would keep his hand on the rudder and guide the town’s ship toward a middle channel.
To some degree that’s happened. Town board meetings, though commissioners may and often do disagree, are much kinder, gentler and civil.
Given the slate of candidates that will now go into office, it’s unlikely the town board will return to its coalition-like ways.
Our newspaper recently said good-bye to a longtime employee. June Sanders retired after working here for something like a gazillion years. When she left, we lost a lot of institutional memory. The town of Wendell will undergo a similar experience when Fuller departs from office at the end of his term in December.
The town board will be poorer for the loss of Ira Fuller. Actually, the entire town of Wendell will be poorer because he’s not involved in town business.
What we are looking forward to, once Fuller’s health returns to normal, is how he will reinvolve himself in the community he loves so much.