WAYNE LAKES — The Village of Wayne Lakes, Ohio looks the same as it did a week ago. But according to those who knew him, Mayor Gary Lee Young’s passing on June 20, will leave long-lasting effects.
He died of complications from falling downstairs in his Wayne Lakes home, according to Young’s daughter Debra Sieg, of Greenville.
“It’s already not as fun here; it will never be the same,” said Wayne Lakes Council Member Joan Falknor, with tears in her eyes.
Along with the fun was 20 years of work and devotion that Young poured into the village on a daily basis, according to Falknor and Sieg. After going through some of his belongings, Sieg said she was overwhelmed with the work she found.
“Files after files and the books for the grants that he completed-so thick, so time-consuming,” she said. “That is all he talked about; working on the grants and getting the concession stand up to code. He brought all of that to life.”
Falknor said the one word that described Young was gregarious.
“He was always larger than life,” she said. “He would never ask someone to do something that he wasn’t willing to do himself. His brain was always working on improve and beautifying the village. Gary’s vast knowledge of water systems and sewage and all of that stuff – we will miss that. Who is going to do that? “
Falknor described Young as having many balls in the air, such as: making sure all of the lights had new high energy efficient, money-saving light bulbs; ordering flowers and plants, including a recent purchase of 15 butterfly bushes for the beach area; having a big crate built for recyclables that Falknor trades in for money to go towards the beach and starting a chipping program by turning branches and sticks into mulch. He was always resolving boundary issues – at least 12 a month, Falknor said, such as: fence lines, barking dogs and four-wheel riders going through yards.
In addition, he made Wayne Lakes a sociable place, Falknor said. The village had a huge Easter egg hunt, an enormous Halloween complete with hay rides, a big Christmas party, pot-luck dinners, fish fries, chicken barbecues and anything kid-related, Falknor said. One of his recent projects was to get the new and improved beach concession stand opened by Memorial Day. Falknor said it will open any day now.
Young was working in Indiana, when he happened to wander upon Wayne Lakes and purchased a small home, according to Sieg.
”What is more impressive is that he later built his own a-frame, in the mid 1970s,” she said. “He did all the construction himself with family members; especially me. We were pulling that a-frame up with a pulley system by hand. It is a very beautiful home. He was never more proud and dedicated to serve out here. This is his legacy. “
In addition to his many family and friends, a very close companion that accompanied Young throughout his life was his pipe. In addition he: was a very proud of his Cherokee heritage, played the banjo, once had an earthworm business, loved fishing, was an active member of church, was a true Republican and a fighter of Sieg’s personal battles, she said.
“I became so proud, the more I have discovered,” Sieg said. “He touched so many peoples’ lives. If he met a stranger, that stranger became his friend.”
For the Wayne Lakes Council, life goes on. Former Council President John McRoberts is Mayor Pro Tempore until the November election. In addition, that election will have four of the six council members’ seats up for re-election: McRoberts’s former position, Falknor, Mike Bland and Karen Sink. Falknor said two people so far are seeking the position of Mayor. While potential candidates might have great credentials, there is no replacing Young, Falknor said.
“They are very big shoes to fill,” she said. “Wayne Lakes is not going to be the same without Gary.”
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.