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CR100F16.jpg Fred Wilson, former Longmont Mayor, poses for a portrait in his woodworking shop on a chair he built on Friday. Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer May 13, 2016
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Former Longmont Mayor and City Council member Frederick Daniel “Fred” Wilson, who died on Jan. 10 at the age of 74, was remembered by former Council colleagues and city staff members this week.

“I appreciated Fred’s inclusive approach to citizen involvement,” said former City Manager Gordon Pedrow.

“He believed strongly that the City Council members were elected to serve the needs of residents. In order to understand those needs, Fred was always open to listening to residents and respecting their points of view,” Pedrow said of Wilson, who was mayor when Council hired Pedrow to be Longmont city government’s top administrator.

“He also believed residents deserved to know why the City Council made important decisions,” Pedrow said. “He took a very direct approach to informing by writing a regular column in the Times-Call through which he shared his views.”

Wilson won the mayor’s office in 1989 after being encouraged by a co-worker at Western Foundries to get into local politics. He was re-elected in 1991 to a second two-year term in that office.

“I had a little problem with the fact that the people who ran Longmont at that time were a tight group and nobody from the outside came in,” Wilson said in a 2016 interview. “That was my take on it at the time, but I can’t say for sure.”

Pedrow said this week “I was favorably impressed when Fred shared with me what had motivated him to run for mayor in 1989. He attended a council meeting and was appalled that residents were treated as though they were taking up valuable time when they spoke to their elected representatives.

“He decided that night to run for mayor so that residents would be treated with respect. Leading by example was Fred’s way of serving Longmont,” Pedrow said.

Wilson’s four years as mayor did not end his local government political involvement.

He ran for, and won, a four-year term as an at-large Council member in 1993. He then sat out of Council service for several years, returning when he won a special December 2003 election to fill a vacant at-large Council seat, was re-elected to that seat in 2005, and occupied it through November 2007.

Wilson was “extremely independent and a free thinker. He didn’t need to follow the crowd,” said Leona Stoecker, who succeeded Wilson in the mayor’s post in November 1993 and was Longmont’s mayor until November 2001.

She remembered Wilson pulling out the chair for her to sit down in, in Longmont’s Civic Center council chambers, when she physically took office as mayor.

“I always got along with Fred,” Stoecker said. “I do not remember any time that we had disagreements.”

Julia Pirnack, Longmont’s mayor from November 2001 to November 2007, said this week “the first thing that comes to my mind about Fred was his talent to the heart of even the most decisive council matter in a few short sentences, and usually with (a) great deal of humor sprinkled in.

“He had true clarity of thought and the reasons behind his stance on any given issue. We had a great discussion about FasTracks; I was sure that we could trust RTD to deliver on their campaign promises and asked him to keep the faith,” Pirnack said of the Regional Transit District’s proposal, in a 2002 sales-tax election, to provide passenger rail service between Denver and Longmont.

Wilson “was just as sure that we would not see the train to Longmont in our lifetimes,” Pirnack said.

Roger Lange, a fellow Longmont councilman during Wilson’s final years on Council, said Wilson personified and personally practiced the goal of trying to make meetings “a productive process.”

“Fred did not expound a lot” during Council meetings, Lange said, “but when he talked, people listened because he knew what he was talking about, and he was able to say it in a minimal amount of words.”

Wilson “was very effective in putting his points across unless he felt it was very important,” said Lange, who was Longmont’s mayor from November 2007 to November 2009.

Wilson “wasn’t partisan at all” as a council member, Lange said. “I really enjoyed working with him. Meetings with Fred and discussions with Fred were always positive and productive.”

When several city staff members were invited Thursday to share their memories of Wilson’s Council tenure, they were also complimentary in their recollections.

“Fred was certainly a unique individual,” said Jim Golden, the city’s chief financial officer.

“He was a good listener and a very thoughtful speaker. He also had a great sense of humor. I will always remember how he liked to wear his stove top hat to public ceremonies around town. It was a privilege to work with him,” Golden said.

Sandi Seader, who came to Longmont in 1998 to work in the public works department and is now an assistant city manager, said her memories of Wilson are of “a gentle, patient leader who was never afraid to move the conversation forward when the Council was stymied.

“He loved this community and dedicated his time and wisdom to its advancement,” Seader said.

Wilson’s jobs in Longmont included work as a pattern maker at Western Foundries, where he would make full-size wood versions of the giant objects Western would cast in steel. He was also a craftsman,

Pirnack said Wilson was “an incredibly talented woodworker,” and Stoecker said, “He truly was a master woodworker.”

Stoecker said she has “quite a few of his wooden bowls,” which she said Wilson often made from trees cut down around Longmont.

Wilson, whose father was a cabinet maker, grew up in New Jersey, attended the University of Colorado Boulder, graduating with a degree in English literature. He joined the Navy, was a U.S. Navy pilot, and while stationed in Florida married MaryAnn, a woman who’d joined him there after they’d met at The Sink in Boulder.

MaryAnn Wilson said they moved to Longmont in 1972.

She said he died Jan. 10 at of complications of dementia and was in hospice care at Atria Longmont when he died. (

Wilson is survived by son Dan Wilson and his wife Irina, who live in rural Boulder, and daughter Leah Valentine and her husband Rob, who live in Firestone, as well as five grandchildren.

Ahlberg Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangments, and MaryAnn Wilson said a memorial celebration of her husband’s life is being planned for 2 p.m. Feb. 5 — the day, she said, that would have been Fred Wilson’s 75th birthday — at Grace Evangelical Free Church, 2415 Lake Park Drive, Longmont,

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