Carter County lost a dedicated public servant Thursday, when former County Commissioner Bill McLaughlin passed away at the age of 69. McLaughlin retired in January because of health conditions after a 20-year career with the county, serving District 1 as a road foreman and commissioner.

"Bill will be greatly missed," County Commissioner Kevin Robinson said. "He was always happy and seemed to always be in a good mood. He would pick you up when you were down; he was an all-around good person.

"It is unfortunate they cannot find cures for these problems. I think he did a good job and he was good to work with. None of us are perfect, and I think Bill did the best he could serving the people."

McLaughlin took over the position of county commissioner on an interim basis in December 2003 with the passing of Joe Dean McReynolds. McLaughlin was voted into office Feb. 24, 2004, and held it until his retirement. Ironically, it was Joe Dean's son, Joe David McReynolds who stepped into the void McLaughlin left.

"One thing about Bill, he has some big shoes to fill when he came into office," McReynolds said, "and I think he did a superb job of filling those shoes. He earned the respect of his peers and the community."

In honor of McLaughlin's service to the county, McReynolds is flying the flag at District 1 at half-mast to pay tribute. McLaughlin's service was not limited to District 1, as he served on several boards representing the county. And he never failed to offer District 1's services and equipment to other parts of the county when called upon.

"I have known Bill for several years," County Commissioner Dale Ott said. "He is a good friend. I played a lot of golf with him and he was an overall good person. He treated everyone equally. Plus, he served on a few boards for the commissioner and did a good job representing the board and the county.

"Bill was very personable. He looked out for his family first and the constituents he served. He was very dedicated to his job. I wish his family the best, and we are here if they ever need anything."

As health complications began to diminish McLaughlin's ability to communicate, the light in his eyes never faded. The warmth and determination to serve his constituents to the best of his ability never faltered. And although death may have extinguished that light, it, along with the man McLaughlin was, will not be forgotten.

"With me coming in, I knew he had been sick for the past few years," McReynolds said, "but I did not come into a mess. Even though his health declined, he took care of business and took care of his duties. His health just got so bad and he left me some pretty big shoes to fill."