Family, city mourn loss of former Mayor Lamarand

Former Taylor Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand died Sunday in his home in Dexter.He was 45.

Former Taylor Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand died Sunday in his home in Dexter.He was 45.

By JAMES MITCHELL

Sunday Times Newspapers


TAYLOR — Even during the heights of political controversy, former Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand said he simply wanted to serve, to help when and where he could.

That philosophy seemed to have been the story of Lamarand’s life, one ended too early Sunday when he died in his Dexter home at age 45. As of Friday the cause of death had not been determined, and investigators reportedly ruled out foul play.

Lamarand was remembered in many ways, first and foremost as husband and father, survived by wife, Mishelle, and children, Jillian and Nash. A private memorial service was to be scheduled and the family issued a statement through the city thanking the community for its support.

“This is a very difficult time for not only me and our young children, but for the entire extended family,” Mishelle Lamarand said in the statement, “For now we appreciate everyone’s kind thoughts and ask that you respect our privacy as we work through this very difficult time.”

Lamarand, who graduated from Taylor Center High School in 1987, had first been elected to city council in 2005 before upsetting longtime incumbent Mayor Cameron Priebe in 2009 – Priebe’s first defeat in a lengthy career.

Lamarand served a single, memorable term in office during difficult times both politically and financially, and had twice survived recall attempts while wrestling with budget issues faced by many Downriver communities.

Lamarand’s tenure before his 2013 loss to Mayor Rick Sollars will be recalled for having successfully implemented a five-year debt elimination plan that allowed the city to avoid emergency management takeover by the state.

Sollars joined a community in remembering Lamarand’s service, as well as his dedication to more than just politics.

“This is a terrible shame,” Sollars said. “He was a man who had a beautiful family and should have had a long life to look forward to.”

After leaving office last year Lamarand returned to his lifelong passion for both teaching and coaching, and was teaching social studies at Dearborn Heights Crestwood High School. His tenure in Dearborn included having coached a variety of sports including a nine-year stint as head softball coach.

Crestwood School District Supt. Laurie VanValkenburg said in a statement that Lamarand’s 15 years with the district – prior to and following a leave of absence while serving as mayor – will long be remembered, and his dedication to students will be missed.

After leaving office last year, Lamarand said he’d enjoyed the challenges of his time in public office – and didn’t rule out a future run – and was pleased that he’d helped establish a plan for the city to manage its own affairs and regain economic stability.

He looked forward to spending more time with his two young children, and left office with no regrets and great expectations for himself and the city.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)