The gamut of Geneva city leaders set the majority of business aside to mourn the loss of Electrical Superintendent Mike Buffington at their city council meeting.
"We meet tonight with a very heavy heart," Alderman Dean Kilburg said to begin Monday's meeting.
Aldermen then quickly set aside presentations planned for the meeting to eulogize Buffington. The 64-year-old died June 12 while driving on the eastbound exit ramp from I-88 to Route 47 in Sugar Grove. Police believe Buffington missed a stop sign, resulting in an SUV impacting the driver's side of a city-owned Ford Taurus.
The passengers of the SUV sustained relatively minor injuries. Buffington died. The Geneva city flag has flown at half-staff ever since in his honor.
Aldermen praised Buffington for his depth of knowledge about electricity and his people skills.
"In my dealings with Mike I think the mark of his character was not how smart he was but how patient he was with someone like me who maybe wasn't that smart," said Alderman Craig Maladra. "It didn't matter how many times I asked the same question. His patience was a sign of just how good a person we've lost."
Alderman Dorothy Flanagan said there was no pretense when interacting with Buffington.
"He just seemed to be a real person," she said. "He always found time to say hello, and his door was always opened. His life was taken to short. He was a sweetie."
Alderman Ron Singer said he would playfully call Buffington "Mr. Sparky." It was always received with a smile and good humor.
"He really was a very special man, very gifted," Singer said. "I enjoyed his company immensely. I never did have an opportunity to meet his family, but I'm sure he was a very strong family man. He was an absolutely beautiful person."
Buffington was buried in Indiana following a service at Yurs Funeral Home in Geneva. He was the fourth of 14 children.