Mecklenburg commissioner Neil Cooksey was remembered by his colleagues Tuesday for his commitment to public service, and devotion to his family and his faith.
In an emotional tribute, commissioners and other county officials shared stories about their work and friendship with Cooksey, who died last Wednesday after a two-and-a-half year fight with pancreatic cancer. He was 51.
On Tuesday, Cookseys seat around the chamber dais was draped in purple a symbol for cancer awareness with a black ribbon tied around it.
County Manager Harry Jones spoke of how he and Cooksey became close friends after Jones was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Theyd speak frequently about the county, their health and life.
He never gave up and he fought to the bitter end, Jones said. I just hope that my life can be as positive and beneficial to others as Neils life was to me.
The board also inducted Cooksey, who represented District 5 on the board for nearly four years, into the Order of the Hornet the countys top honor.
Earlier in the evening, the county replayed remarks Cooksey gave at the boards July 3 meeting, where he talked about his faith, life and relationships.
County leaders said Cookseys appearance at that meeting, which came just a few days after he entered hospice care, was an example of his dedication to service even as he battled his health challenges.
They also spoke of his commitment to his values, but also his willingness to seek common ground with others on the board. They recalled his inquisitiveness and ability to stay level-headed in heated debates.
Neil was the ever consistent voice of reason on this board, said commissioner Karen Bentley. He was thoughtful and deliberate and he challenged us, which is a good thing. And he was open to being challenged and considering the other side.
Commissioner George Dunlap recalled how when he was seeking support for programs to help the homeless or provide medicine to residents and Cooksey would provide the key vote needed to get the request approved. Somehow Neil was always there to save the day, he said.
Cookseys wife, Allyson, and two of their children attended Tuesdays commissioners meeting. Allyson Cooksey said her husband loved public service and hoped that his spirit of volunteerism continues on. Anna Cooksey also spoke of her fathers love of politics and how he raised her to be not only outgoing and social, but a little bit dorky.
He was the best hero a girl could ask for, she said.
Said his son, Charlie Cooksey: My dad loved each and everyone of you so much. And he just loved to serve this county.