CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — Emotions ran high at Clearwater library where the city council met for the first time in over two decades without 72-year-old Bill Horne as the Clearwater City Manager.
Mayor Frank Hibbard started Monday’s meeting with a moment of silence. “He has mentored so many people and made them better. Myself included. If everyone would rise for a moment of silence,” Hibbard said with tears streaming from his face.
A somber moment remembering Horne who died Saturday from a suspected heart attack, that according to city officials.
Flowers now stand tall above his nameplate, along with a picture of him with the Philly Phanatic.
After 21 years of being the Clearwater City Manager, 72-year-old Horne was set to retire in three weeks.
The city said Horne, a retired Air Force Colonel, started as a general support services administrator in 1998. He later became the city manager in 2001.
After a long and prosperous career, Horne was set to retire on September 3rd.
“It’s obviously a shock, he was ready to venture out and start to enjoy the fruits of his labor after serving in the Air Force and [as City Manager]. He was also one of the top lay leaders for the Lutheran Church, they had plans for him to travel worldwide as an ambassador for the church, and so none of those things are going to happen,” said Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard.
Mayor Hibbard went on to tell 8 On Your Side spoke the sudden loss of Horne was an immense loss for the city.
“Bill led this city with incredible integrity, very responsible fiscally. The city is in marvelous shape,” said Mayor Frank Hibbard.
Mayor Hibbard said Horne was much more than just an employee.
“We played golf together almost every Saturday. I’ll miss having his thought leadership. We talked about all sorts of issues. He was much more than an employee, he was a close friend,” added Mayor Hibbard. “Our community was richer for having Bill Horne and today we are poorer for having lost him. His impact in Clearwater and beyond will live on tangibly and in our hearts. Rest In Peace, my friend.”
Mayor Hibbard said his thoughts and prayers are with Horne’s family, including his wife, Loretta.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.
City officials told 8 On Your Side that Micah Maxwell will fill the position until a permanent candidate is chosen.
They have 4 interviews lined up for early September and the new city manager could start before the end of the year.