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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Mark Halpin, who served on the Colfax Village Board for 25 years all together, died on Monday, November 1.
Halpin was 60 years old.
Over the years, he served on a variety of village board committees and most recently was chair of the audit and finance committee (a committee of the whole village board).
He also currently served on the personnel committee (another committee of the whole village board), the streets committee, the parks committee and was the village board’s representative on the elevator commission and the village board’s alternate representative on the Colfax Solid Waste & Recycling Committee.
Gary Stene, now a village trustee but who served as village president for many years at the same time Halpin served on the village board, said that Mark Halpin was “a good public servant.”
“I think his heart was in the right place. He was willing to spend the time to do what he thought was needed for the village. He was a good public servant. He was approachable by the public and would convey their thoughts to the board,” Stene said.
“His longevity is unusual in this day and age, to be on the board that long. As he aged, he grew into the position, so to speak, like all of us do. His heart was in the right place at all times. I think he thought about it at home, and in later years, and with declining health, I think he had even more time to think about it,” he said.
“He would take situations home and think them over, and not everybody does that. It’s a shame. It was way too early to lose him … He was a sports fan. He took a lot of pride in going to watch his relatives play ball. He was a backer of our sports, here, too. He was a hometown boy,” Stene said.
According to his obituary, published elsewhere in this issue of the Colfax Messenger, Mark Halpin graduated from Colfax High School in 1979 and remained in Colfax for the entirety of his life.
Among the comments made on social media, many people said they had always enjoyed visiting with Mark and appreciated that he was always willing to talk to village residents about their concerns.
Words used to describe Halpin include “kind,” “generous,” “a true gentleman,” “pleasant,” “friendly,” “compassionate,” and “always had a smile for you.”
Mark Halpin also served as the village board’s representative on the Colfax Public Library Board for many years.
Lisa Bragg-Hurlburt, director of the Colfax Public Library, said Halpin had served on the library board for at least 15 years.
“He helped smooth the transition between directors, since he originally served on Lisa Ludwig’s board. So he was part of the library team that decided to hire me,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
“Mark was a very valuable board member. Since he represented the village, he knew many people around town, and understood local issues. He was very professional about meeting attendance, coming early, and following correct procedure. He also brought a practical, down-to-earth voice to meetings, and had a great sense of humor and a generous spirit,” she said.
“We appreciate Mark’s years of service and are so glad to have gotten to know him. He will be missed. We appreciated his help and guidance,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
Bragg-Hurlburt also noted that Mark Halpin had recently become a member of the Colfax Elevator Commission and that he was a firm supporter of the effort to bring an elevator to the Colfax Municipal Building as well as a supporter of other improvements to the building.
“I will sincerely miss Mark,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
Lisa Ludwig, who served as the director of the Colfax Public Library prior to Bragg-Hurlburt, said she was saddened to hear of Mark Halpin’s death.
“Mark was a wonderful library board member who was very supportive of the Colfax Public Library. He understood the importance of having a public library for the village and surrounding townships and was always willing to listen to new ideas for running the library,” Ludwig said.
“I truly enjoyed working with Mark for all those years I served as the library director. I will miss his smile and his good humor,” she said.
Jackie Ponto, who served as the village administrator-clerk-treasurer prior to Lynn Niggemann, said Halpin had been a friendly face when she started working in Colfax.
“He was truly a nice person and a friend when this ‘new’ girl came to town to work for the village. I will always remember him with a smile. I will be praying for his family and friends,” Ponto said.
“My heart just sank when I saw that he passed. I would just like the community and his family to know he will truly be missed and always had the best intentions for the village,” she said.
Scott Gunnufson, who served several terms as village president, described Mark Halpin as “a loyal Colfax resident.”
“It is with the deepest sympathy that goes out to Mark’s family and friends,” Gunnufson said.
“I have had the great benefit to serve several years on the village board with Mark. We shared many perspectives and learnings through our times on the board. Mark had a calm demeanor that served him well, and I think many of us still carry those same qualities into our personal and professional lives,” he said.
“Mark was always there to go the extra mile for his community, whether it was additional meetings, community events, or just helping his neighbors. His long-standing commitment to the village will not go un-noticed, as he taught us what it is to be a trustworthy and loyal Colfax resident,” Gunnufson said.