James Wallin, died on September 26, 2015, a longtime public servant who was recently selected as the city’s Citizen of the Year, died suddenly early Saturday, Crow Wing County authorities said.
The cause of death was tentatively reported by his wife as a massive heart attack, according to reports.
James , elected to the City Council in 1977, had been mayor since 1998.
His death brought in condolences from Minnesota’s congressional delegation.
In a statement, Rep. Rick Nolan described James as “a true leader who devoted so much time and energy to making life better for the people he was proud to serve – even down to watering the plants in Brainerd City Hall.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar said that James was “a kind and passionate public servant who always put the needs of Brainerd and its people first.”
James grew up around the lakes area of Nisswa, about 20 miles north of Brainerd.
“He was born and raised in a log cabin without running water or electricity,” said his longtime friend and fellow Council Member Chip Borkenhagen.
“He was truly one of the originals here.”