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Maher’s death shocks residents

By Staff | May 8, 2010

Richard Maher

The Blue Earth community was shocked and saddened last week with the sudden death of City Councilman Dick Maher on Sunday, May 2.

Maher, 73, was a retired Blue Earth Area Schools educator and activities director. He also served as the Buccaneer wrestling coach from 1964-1979.

“Dick was a special person,” Blue Earth mayor Rob Hammond says. “Sunday was a sad, sad day for our community.”

Maher had been a member of the City Council for the past 11 years.

The council had been scheduled to hold their regular first meeting of the month on Monday, May 3. Mayor Hammond cancelled the meeting, out of respect for Councilman Maher and his family.

It was not clear if the meeting would be made up, or if the council would just wait for their next regular meeting, set for Monday, May 17, to take care of business.

Blue Earth City Administrator Kathy Bailey says Maher will be greatly missed on the council.

“Dick brought a common sense approach to community leadership,” Bailey says. “He was very well studied, made up his mind, then worked hard for promoting the community.

“We will all miss him on the council,” she adds. “The community will certainly miss him as a person as a person, as well.

Bailey says she has asked City Attorney David Frundt to research the proper procedure for naming a replacement for Maher on the council.

“Because we are a charter city, and not a statutory one, some rules and regulations are different from other cities,” Bailey explains.

Both Bailey and Hammond believe the council will appoint someone to fill out the remainder of Maher’s term on the council, which runs to January, 2011.

Bailey says Maher had told her he did not plan on filing for re-election on this coming November ballot.

“Dick told me he hoped Councilman Rick Scholtes would run for his (Maher’s) First Ward seat,” Bailey says. “Rick is moving from Third Ward to First Ward at some point in time.

So far that move has not been made, and Councilman Scholtes continues to serve in his Third Ward position.

Mayor Hammond says it will be difficult to see Maher’s chair empty at the next council meeting.

“He always sat in the same place, even though the other council members have moved around over the years,” Hammond says.

Councilman Dan Brod agrees Maher will be missed.

“I’ve known Dick since I was in the sixth grade,” Brod says. “I have a lot of respect for him.

Blue Earth Area School Superintendent Dale Brandsoy calls Dick Maher “a legend.

“Dick touched a lot of young lives with his work at Blue Earth Area,” Brandsoy says.

So many members of the staff at BEA were planning to attend Maher’s funeral last Thursday that the school needed to make special plans.

“We will be having many of the students in a special assembly in the Performing Arts Center,” Brandsoy says. “A couple of staff members will monitor them while the rest of the staff is away.

Maher came to BEA in 1964 to teach elementary physical education and coach wrestling and football, as an assistant coach.

In 1974 he moved to the high school to teach physical education.

But, it was his career as a wrestling coach at Blue Earth Area that made him well known in Blue Earth and around the state.

He was a member of the Minnesota State Wrestling Hall of Fame, as well as the state’s Athletic Director Hall of Fame.

BEA Activities Director Rob Norman, who took Maher’s position as AD, says he looked up to him as a mentor, almost like a father figure.

“I was a coach for him for five years before he retired, so I saw what he did, and how he did it,” Norman says. “He was stern, but he had a heart as big as the sun, and he truly cared about everybody.”