BROCTON - A somber tone and heavy hearts opened the meeting of the Brocton Village Board of Trustees Wednesday.
Announcing the passing of Village Trustee Art Donovan, Mayor Dave Hazleton described his fellow board member as a "dedicated public servant, who served on the town and village boards, has umpired possibly every baseball or softball game played in this town, and who loved deeply and gave it his all no matter what he was doing. Art will definitely be missed by not only this board, but all of the village employees, and especially the community; this is surely quite a loss."
Donovan, who was serving his second term as a village trustee, passed away early Wednesday morning following an extended illness. Fellow trustee Gary Planty made note that even in the face of illness, Donovan still asked, "How are things going at the village?"
"He was a good friend to me; his heart was always in this community no matter what he was doing. If he felt strongly about something, he never quit," added Planty.
Donovan's dedication most recently was found in the organization of a joint recreation program with Westfield for youth in Brocton this past year. Planty and Donovan, as recreation committee members for the board, attended numerous meetings to plan for the success of the program, which was carried out to completion with satisfactory results.
"He was always at those recreation meetings, no matter what. And being involved in umpiring ball games for so many years, he did it because he truly loved it."
Village Clerk Karen Ardillo noted that Donovan's shoes will be hard to fill given his love and dedication to Brocton.
"He was truly a blessing to this community. If you needed him any time, he was right there to assist and do all he could. Art attended every meeting, every workshop and every tour. He was literally in this office every day. No matter where he was or what he was doing, we knew how to reach him. He was tremendously dedicated to making the village of Brocton a better place and was so proud of this community."
Anyone who attended board meetings in Brocton were warmly greeted by Donovan, along with his sincere smile, a firm handshake and a pat on the back or a hug. Donovan was motivated last year to name then trustee and current mayor Dave Hazleton "Man of the Year" in Brocton in appreciation of his friendship and like dedication to Brocton.
"Art knew the whole story and history of Brocton, and he loved to tell that to people. He loved sharing history with people. He lived life to the fullest. And even though many days he may have been hurting, he never slowed down. He truly will be missed by this board, the village employees, the whole village itself. But I know he's up there looking down on us making sure we're OK," concluded Ardillo.
Flags at village hall were lowered to half-mast Wednesday in Donovan's honor.
Donovan retired from umpiring in 2010 after a 46-year commitment. Retired from Chautauqua County's Buildings & Grounds department, Donovan also served as an OBSERVER circulation manager and worked for the former Kraft Foods. An active member of the Brocton Legion and former commander, Donovan also was an exempt status member of the Portland Fire Department.
He leaves behind his beloved wife, Jackie, a son and daughter, a brother and sister, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. The board is currently seeking an answer on whether someone can be appointed to fill Donovan's position, or whether a special election would need to be slated.