James Wallin, the popular and long-time mayor of Brainerd, died Saturday of a massive heart attack. He was 73.
He had recently been recovering from back surgery. He’d been elected to the city council in 1977 and first elected mayor in 1998.
City officials had announced earlier this month that Wallin was named Citizen of the Year.
After learning of the Citizen of the Year Award, Wallin told the Brainerd Dispatch: “All I can say is it’s really an honor to not only be mayor, but now to be named the citizen of the year. I just can’t comprehend it. It still hasn’t sunk in.”
After Wallin’s death, City Council President Gary Scheeler told the paper:
He was one of the greatest mayors this town will ever have. He was loved by thousands. I’ve known him since the 1990s. He knew the town so well and people so well.
The city council president will serve as acting mayor, and the council can appoint a new mayor to serve until the election in November, 2016.
A visitation for Wallin will be Friday, 4-7 p.m., at Brenny Funeral Chapel. The funeral service is at 1 p.m. Saturday at Zion Lutheran Church.