STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (AP) - The mayor of this Cleveland suburb, who saw the city's population more than double in his 25-year tenure, died a day after having a heart attack. He was 70.
Since Mayor Walter F. Ehrnfelt Jr. was first elected, the 25-square-mile municipality evolved from a rural community of 22,000 into a thriving, upscale suburb of 45,000 residents.
"He's an institution," Law Director Ken Kraus said.
Ehrnfelt (pictured, above) never regained consciousness after his heart attack on Saturday and died Sunday at Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights, said Walter Ehrnfelt III, his oldest son.
The Republican who favored shirt sleeves and suspenders never intended to go into politics. After graduating from Strongsville High School, he picked up a cleaver and went to work at the Ehrnfelt meat stand, a business the family still operates.
Ehrnfelt might have stayed a butcher had his neighbors not convinced him in 1973 to run against a Strongsville school board member who was leading a fight to ban books and dismiss teachers.
Ehrnfelt won his first mayor's race in November 1979 by a more than 2-to-1 ratio. He ran unopposed in his most recent re-election, a term that ends this year.
He was past president of the Ohio Municipal League, a member of Gov. Bob Taft's State and Local Government Commission and past president of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Committee.
He is survived by his wife, Anne, four children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral arrangements will be handled by Jardine Funeral Home in Strongsville.