A sombre Sedalia City Council meeting was held Thursday night, a meeting that was pushed back a couple of days due to the sudden death of Second Ward Councilman Russell Driskell.

Driskell, who died early Tuesday morning, was honored with a memorial at his normal seat in the Council Chambers. A smiling portrait of Driskell wearing his official bright blue City of Sedalia shirt, was framed by a black drape, two candles and a vase of red, white and blue flowers.

Mayor John Kehde gave each Council member a chance to say a few words about Driskell at the start of the meeting.

Jeff Leeman - “You can't ask for a finer gentleman. He was just a really good friend to me,” Leeman said, adding that he knew Russell a long time before he started serving on the Council.

Jo Lynn Turley - “I've sat by Russell since he came on the Council, and he's been thoughtful, intelligent, he's done great things here on the Council, he's been here to serve his ward and the City of Sedalia,” Turley said, adding that his sense of humor always put a smile on her face.

Bonita Nash - Nash noted that her and Driskell started serving on the Council at the same time and actually campaigned in their ward together. “He became a good friend,” she said. “He was a good, kind person and never had anything negative to say.”

Mayor Pro Tem Don Meier - “Russell was a very nice gentleman. He was excited about being on the Council, and about this upcoming election,” Meier said, adding that he was excited that he was running unopposed. At the last Council meeting (Jan. 7) , Meier said he helped Driskell to his vehicle and Driskell remarked that he said he wished he felt better. “I just don't really feel well,” Driskell said.

Bob Cross - “Russell always had a smile on his face, always had something nice to say about people,” Cross said. “He was an asset to the City Council and I considered it a great honor to call Russell my friend.”

Tollie Rowe - “I had a lot of fun times with Russell ... he was always grounded, but you can always count on him for a laugh at the right time. He will be missed,” Rowe said, adding that he was a lovely man.

Megan Page – “I don't think anybody loved the Council more than Russell,” Page said through tears. “The City has suffered a big loss.”

City Clerk Arlene Silvey called Russell “one of the sweetest persons I've ever known. He always had a kind word and you could tell he loved his city, loved working on Council. He's going to be truly missed.”

City Counselor Anne Gardner echoed every sentiment the others said and added that Russell “did his homework, he read his material, he asked questions,” she said.

Chief Greg Harrell mentioned that Russell was always a big supporter of the Sedalia Fire Department. “We always appreciated that.”

Community Developer John Simmons repeated that Driskell's absence will be a great loss to the City. “I will miss Russell,” he said. “He set a good example for all.”

Public Works Director Brenda Ardrey said she will miss Russell as a smiling member of the “tree patrol.”

Mayor Kehde admitted it has been a tough time for city staff since Tuesday. “It was a shock, and I appreciate everyone's passion,” he said.

Driskell served on the Sedalia Council for five years, and was on the April 2 ballot, running unopposed. He was a member of  the community development and public safety committees.

Visitation for Russell, a Smith-Cotton High School and State Fair Community College graduate, will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 at Heckart Funeral Home in Sedalia.

Military honors for Russell, a US Air Force veteran, will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home, followed by a Celebration of Life service.

Randy Kirby
Randy Kirby

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