VAN WERT — A much-loved public servant passed away on Sunday. Former Van Wert Mayor Eugene Bagley died at a Kalamazoo hospital.
Bagley served the city politically for 30 years, spending 1970-1992 as part of Van Wert City Council and 1992-1999 in the mayor’s office.
“Gene was on council many years, and I served with him starting in ‘78. Gene did have endurance… for the amount of time he spent on council and his service as mayor,” remembered current Mayor Don Farmer. “Gene has been a steadfast community member for the community good, and I want to express my condolences to his family, but also to the community for the loss of someone who has contributed much to our community.”
Bagley and his wife, Joanne, were very active around the city. Gene was a former member of the Van Wert Rotary Club, the Elks Lodge, Van Wert Men’s Garden Club, and Willow Bend Country Club.
Board of Elections Director Linda Stutz recalled the couple’s involvement. "He was a super guy who was very caring and concerned about Van Wert as a whole. They were active in everything that went on around Van Wert, even after he was no longer an elected official. They were always doing things for the city just because of their love.”
Bagley and City Councilman Stan Agler became fast friends back in their days at Van Wert High School. At the end of Monday’s city council meeting, Agler paid tribute to his friend.
“In 1950, Gene got a new Chevy, and we drove it around this empty, big hole out there — they called it ‘Mayor Morris’ bathtub!’ It was our first reservoir. I think back on that and here were two 17-year-old kids who drove around the top of that, thinking we were really bold and brave… as it turns out, we both served as mayor of the City of Van Wert for a combined total of 20 years. Gene had 20 years in city council and 8 years as mayor. He distinguished himself for his presence and activity and longevity. We lost a good public servant.”
Gene Bagley was 80.