Ron Edinger was “an incredible family man,” a great listener and a political “throwback,” according to current and former Coeur d’Alene mayors and City Council members.
“Not only was he committed to Coeur d’Alene, but first and foremost, Ron was just an incredible family man,” Mayor Steve Widmyer said. “His family was always number one with him. And Coeur d’Alene, we were fortunate enough that he chose to make the community his extended family.”
Edinger, who served 50 years in Coeur d’Alene city government, died Wednesday. He was 85.
The 12-time incumbent member of the City Council was first elected in 1967. He served one term as mayor in the 1970s.
Mike Kennedy, who served on the council with Edinger from 2006- 14, noted Edinger was first elected before Kennedy was born.
“I would frequently remind him of that and he would frequently remind me that with age comes wisdom, and I was far below him in the wisdom category,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy called Edinger a mentor. He said he appreciated the talks they had at Edinger’s office, which Kennedy said Edinger referred to as anywhere outside of a building where Edinger could smoke.
“When I would need to get brought to the woodshed, I put a jacket on and we’d go out to Ron’s office, and he would smoke and we’d chat,” Kennedy said.
Former Mayor Sandi Bloem said most council members who sat beside Edinger say that Edinger’s knowledge and experience was irreplaceable.
“His ability at the council level was to always hear people out,” said Bloem, who served 2001- 13. “I never did see him angry. He could disagree with someone, and it did not change his friendship. Ron and I did not agree on every issue, but I never felt for one minute that he still wasn’t one of my very best friends.”
Bloem joked that the two also didn’t always agree on the ballfield.
“He was an umpire and I was angry at the calls he made a couple of times and he knows that,” Bloem said. “We kid about that often.”
Widmyer said Edinger would speak to constituents from all walks of life.
“It didn’t matter who you were,” he said. “It didn’t matter where you were from, you could always go to Ron and he would listen to any concern that you had.”
Even when Widmyer faced a tough issue, Widmyer said he would sit on Edinger’s front porch and listen to his advice.
“He really felt that it was his job to serve everyone in the city and I think that’s what we’ll probably miss the most,” Widmyer said.
One of Edinger’s lasting impacts on the city was being part of the city government that purchased Tubbs Hill for public use.
“He was a huge advocate of the parks … He was a savior of Tubbs Hill,” Bloem said.
Bloem said Edinger believed in public places for people to enjoy.
“He was a community focused person,” she said. “In the places where I think he did shine the most were those places he could create, where families could come together and celebrate.”
Kennedy called Edinger a political “throwback.”
“There’s showhorses and there’s workhorses, and Ron was a workhorse,” Kennedy said. “He didn’t need all the attention in the world. He just kept going and going and left a great legacy.”
Kennedy said Edinger was the council liaison to the city’s streets department, and he constantly ensured staff had what it needed to keep streets in good shape.
“He was a blue collar, citizen-focused elected guy who was most comfortable with the regular folks who lived and helped build this city,” Kennedy said.
He said Edinger could sift through the “showhorse stuff” and get down to what was important. For example, Kennedy said officials would talk about a complicated topic, and then Edinger would chime in.
“Ron would occasionally just say, ‘That sounds like b.s. to me. Let’s cut to the chase.’ And that’s what was needed,” Kennedy said.
He said Edinger is someone who needs to be remembered.
“With all the new folks that have moved in, I think people ought to remember that there’s a long legacy of leaders and great people that went before them, and sometimes taking a breath and learning about the community is the first important step, and Ron did that as well or better than anybody,” Kennedy said.