(New Buffalo, MI) - A high ranking official for the City of New Buffalo has died following a battle with COVID-19. Dave Richards, 69, had been city manager since 2017. His death was reported Monday morning in a statement released from City Hall.
Mayor John Humphrey said he was stunned by the passing of Richards whose family told him over a week ago that he was on a ventilator but making enough progress to hope the breathing machine would be removed at some point. “He ended up taking a turn for the worse,” he said.
Humphrey, elected to his first term on the city council on November 3, he said he got to know Richards during the campaign and even more from their daily contacts in recent weeks. The city council appointed Humphrey mayor, a ceremonial position with limited duties like running city council meetings, signing city documents and representing the city at functions like ribbon cutting ceremonies. “I worked with him right up to Thanksgiving where from his hospital bed he was still more concerned about making sure city business was being properly handled than his own health,” Humphrey said.
According to city officials, Richards achieved many successes during his tenure in New Buffalo like a much needed strengthening of city finances and extensive renovation of the downtown. The downtown make over included replacing aging water and sewer lines and resurfacing of Whittaker Street. Other downtown improvements included the addition of park benches, old fashioned street lamps and switch from parallel to angled parking.
“He definitely cared about his job a great deal and that was very clear and appreciated. We are all sad. Most certainly,” Humphrey said.
Rich Killips said he worked closely with Richards since he hired him as police chief in 2018. “Everyone is very sad of course to have someone who was a great friend and co-worker like Mr.
Richards to no longer be with us. Dave was such a strong individual he would definitely want all of us to get back to work and keep doing a good job for the city,” Killips said. Killips took over for Richards on an interim basis on December 8th, given the uncertain prognosis and was given $500 in extra weekly pay while serving a police chief and city manager.
Humphrey said finding another city manager could take at least six weeks. “He was a great guy to work with. A great guy to learn from. He had been around for a long time and knew a lot,” Killips said.
Richards came to New Buffalo from Nevada and began his long municipal government career in public safety. “He was a full time firefighter before he got into city management. So, he had more of an intricate knowledge of how public safety worked which really made it easy for myself and the fire chief to work with him,” Killips said.