A former mayor of Post Falls died Thursday night at age 97.
Francis Wilhelm served one term, from 1976 to 1980, and lived in the city most of his life. After turning 97 a few months ago, Wilhelm went parasailing on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
“He always kept track of what was going on in the city. He didn’t mind telling you if he didn’t like something,” said Mayor Clay Larkin. “He had a long and fruitful life and will be missed by everyone.”
Larkin said the issues Wilhelm faced were similar to what the city is going through now. As mayor, Wilhelm was concerned about growth and wanted to bring more businesses to town, Larkin said.
His granddaughter, Linda Wilhelm, serves on the City Council.
“His health just started failing over the last couple of years,” she said. “He was very, very sharp-minded. I talked politics with him quite a bit.”
Linda Wilhelm said her grandfather was the oldest of 11 boys and had four children – Allen (“Buck”), Beverly, Don and Cheryl. Her grandmother, Ethel, died several years ago, she said.
Francis Wilhelm moved to Post Falls as a child and later worked as a Volkswagen mechanic in Spokane. Linda Wilhelm said he instilled a strong work ethic in “everybody that passed his way.”
Buck Wilhelm said his father, uncle and “one or two other guys” started the Post Falls Fire Department in 1949. “We had an old Dodge with a 500-gallon tank on it,” Buck Wilhelm said. “I don’t remember if we ever fought any fires.”
Buck Wilhelm said his father “got along with everybody.”
Buck’s wife, Joanne Wilhelm, said she remembers most the “close-knit family” with potluck parties and poker games. “He was always such a positive person,” she said. “He just wanted a better place for people to live, is why he ran. He was an honest, hardworking guy.”