Jim Erickson, who served as Benicia City Manager for seven years, died Tuesday following a long battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease. He was 67.
Erickson served as city manager from 2003 to 2010, when he retired in July, but was quickly rehired to serve as interim city manger until Oct. 15, 2010.
He spent 40 years in public service, first in the Army and then in various cities in California.
"We just got the news this morning," Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson told Patch.
"It is very sad. I extend my deep sympathy to the family."
The mayor credited Erickson with playing an integral part in developing a community center in an existing building -- a surplus school site.
"Jim Erickson was a man of enormous truthworthiness and integrity," Patterson told Patch.
The mayor also added that Erickson "was extremely loyal to staff."
In 2010 -- while interim City Manager -- Erickson wrote a piece on the city's website defending wages and benifits paid city employes in the midst of calls for salary cuts.
"During his time here there were always balanced budgets," said Anne Cardwell, city administrative services director; Erickson hired Cardwell nine years ago.
"He was truly very dedicated and committed," Cardwell told Patch.
"He was very committed to doing thorough strategic planning."
Cardwell added that while Erickson served as city manager, the city finance department regularly received honors for their budgets.
Erickson attended the University of California at Berkeley on an Army ROTC scholarship and graduated in 1967, but didn't start active duty until September of that year.
So, he said, he passed the next three months "going to the beach. I spent a lot of time in Santa Cruz that summer."
The tan faded when he was assigned to missile duty in Grand Forks, N.D., but during that time he earned his masters degree.
Erickson was a loyal Cal fan who rarely missed a home football game.
Erickson in 2010 looked back at his tenure as city manager with pride and some regret.
He said his biggest regret was the inability of the city and Albert Seeno to reach agreement on development of the Seeno property in the industrial park.
"If we'd been able to pull off a good project it would have set the economic stability (of Benicia) for a very long time," he said at the time.