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Johnson County Officials Return To Work Following Death of Supervisor Friese

Kate Payne / IPR
Supervisor Kurt Friese died suddenly last week at home. In a photo taken earlier this year, Friese urges attendees at a public meeting to vote in this year's midterm elections.

Officials in Johnson County are getting back to work after the sudden death of one of their own. The county supervisors met for the first time today Wednesday since the death of Supervisor Kurt Friese.

Kurt Friese was serving his first term as a Johnson County supervisor when the 54 year old died suddenly at his home last week. He was known as a longtime advocate for progressive politics and a great cook. At Wednesday’s meeting, fellow Supervisor and friend Mike Carberry said Friese would've wanted the community to continue its work.

“I want to note that Kurt Friese will no longer be with us. You probably all know that he passed last Friday morning," Carberry said. "So we’ll move on. He would want us to do that.”

At Wednesday's meeting, local community planner Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz with Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development remembered Friese's passion for slow food and community building.

“He was also just a very passionate progressive on local foods. And a champion. So we will miss him dearly," Fixmer-Oraiz said. "And as Mike said, we will…we will move forward, we will move on. But he will not be forgotten.”

Johnson County released a statement following Friese's death, saying he demonstrated "what it means to be a community-minded leader."

"He was passionate about improving the well-being of everyone in Johnson County and worked hard to make our county a better place for all people. He was kind, compassionate and treated everyone with respect," the statement reads.

County flags are flying at half-staff in honor of Friese until he’s buried. A viewing is scheduled for Thursday November 1st from 4 pm to 7 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Iowa City. A celebration of life servicewill take place Saturday November 3rd from 8:30 am to 10:30 am at the Englert Theatre.

County administrators will decide whether to appoint another supervisor or hold a special election.  

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter