Devoted Town Councilman Michael Shimansky dies | September 18, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - September 18, 2009

Devoted Town Councilman Michael Shimansky dies

Public servant was stricken by meningitis weeks earlier

by Geoff Gillette

Danville Councilman Michael Shimansky died early Tuesday afternoon at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, after coming down with bacterial meningitis Aug. 17.

He was visiting his family in San Diego when he began to suffer severe flu symptoms and was hospitalized. Since being hospitalized four weeks ago, the venerable councilman was in a comatose state.

"We're all just deeply saddened," said Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich. "It was a shock. It was five weeks ago today that we last saw him. He was happy, he was excited, he was going to see his grandkids."

A week later, Arnerich said they heard the news of Shimansky's illness. "It has just been a blur of shock since then."

"Mike was really 'Mr. Danville' in the sense that he's been around so long," added Arnerich. "He was unique in that he retired very young from Pacific Bell and had the opportunity to get involved in the community in more ways and more intensively than a lot of people could."

Mr. Shimansky, 65, served on the Danville Town Council for 20 years, first elected in 1989, then re-elected to office in 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2006. He served in the rotating position of mayor in 1993, 2003 and 2007. Before that he was on the town's first Parks and Leisure Services Commission.

Town Manager Joe Calabrigo was informed of Shimansky's death early in the afternoon by the councilman's family.

"I had the opportunity to work with him for 20 years," he said. "It's a tremendous loss for his family and this community. There are just so many different people and segments of our community who will feel this loss very profoundly."

Besides being a councilman, Mr. Shimansky was extremely involved in the community as well as helping out at the state and national level. He traveled to New Orleans to join American Red Cross efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and he helped out with the wildfires in San Diego County in 2007.

He was well known locally for officiating soccer and lacrosse games and track meets, presiding over the Primo's and Devil Mountain Runs, and participating in the Fourth of July Parade. He was instrumental in the establishment of the All Wars Memorial at Oak Hill Park.

Mr. Shimansky was also always present at seniors activities, veterans events and representing those with special needs. He played Santa Claus at the Town's annual Elf Workshop and at the Danville Community Band's holiday concerts.

"I'm getting phone calls and e-mails from all across the county," said Councilman Mike Doyle "People loved him for his work ethic. Every decision he made, he had the people of Danville in mind."

"When I first ran for office in 1990, he was the only one to come up and say, 'Mike, I'll help you in any way I can,'" recalled Doyle. "I will miss him dearly. We argued quite a bit but it was civil and we agreed to disagree."

Councilwoman Karen Stepper recalled the passion Shimansky displayed for serving the town, the myriad ways in which he expressed it and the fact that he never sought out recognition for the work he did.

"Mike never looked for glory," she asserted. "He just went out there and did the jobs that needed doing."

"When I think of Mike, I think of the epitome of the public servant," agreed Councilwoman Candace Andersen. "He was really there for the right reasons. It wasn't a stepping stone to higher office, it wasn't for accolades from the community, it's because he believed what he believed and he was there for the community."

She pointed to his service beyond the Town Council, working as a parks commissioner for four years.

"I think the community can be grateful for his role, especially in the area of parks. We have some of the most beautiful parks in the area and we can thank Mike for his part in that," she said.

As a council member, Mr. Shimansky also served on regional boards, including the Central Contra Costa solid Waste Authority, Contra Costa Transit authority and the San Ramon Valley Disaster Council. He was the Contra Costa Mayors' Conference appointee on the S.F. Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board and the East Bay Regional Park District Advisory Committee and the Elections Citizen Advisory Committee.

Mr. Shimansky is survived by his wife of 43 years, Sue; son Greg and daughters Lori and Cyndi; daughter-in-law Shannon and son-in-law Mark; and his beloved grandchildren Morgan, Luke, Paige, Payton and Michael.

Memorial services are pending. Condolences may be sent to the Danville Town Offices, 510 La Gonda Way, Danville, CA 94526, and they will be forwarded to the Shimansky family.