Council members honor Sandberg at first meeting since his death, services announced

By Audrey Wise

July 24, 2013 Updated Jul 24, 2013 at 10:28 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Tuesday night, Peoria City Council members mourned the loss of at-large city councilman Gary Sandberg at their first meeting since his death. Sandberg was found dead, from apparent heart problems, in his apartment Friday.

At Tuesday night's city council meeting there was a noticeably empty seat around the horseshoe.

After regular business was attended to, the mayor and council members took the opportunity to say a few words and pay their respects to Sandberg's children and family members in the audience.

At-large Councilman Ryan Spain said, "When you read the book on Peoria someday many of us probably won't be more than a footnote, but the Gary Sandberg story will be a remarkable chapter in that book and probably one of the favorite chapters,"

"Gary was the real deal," said Fourth District Councilman Jim Montelongo. "It wasn't just a philosophy of basic city services. It was everything he did. You couldn't find a crack in his foundation. Everything he did he believed in with his whole heart."

Many of the male council members around the horseshoe wore a bow tie in Sandberg's memory.

Councilman Grayeb said when he first met Sandberg 20 years ago he was wearing one, "I thought how interesting, how quaint, and yet how avant-garde and progressive, that was Gary Sandberg."

Council member Riggenbach said Sandberg's passion for the city of Peoria can't be understated, and it's something not lost on his children Cari and Colt.

"He loved Peoria so for that we are grateful," said Cari Sandberg.

Colt Sandberg finished the council meeting in his father's chair, a sentiment not taken lightly by anyone in the room.

Cari addressed one burning question, the fate of Sandberg's beloved bird Jellybean. She said he is alive and well, living with her.

Sandberg's children announced that a celebration of life service has been planned and the public is invited to attend.

It will be held Friday July 26 from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. at the Gateway Building.

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