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This story is just breaking, a few minutes ago, on Facebook. Gus Ayer, former Mayor of Fountain Valley and a giant of Orange County progressive and environmental politics, has died. He will be missed more than I can express. More on the story soon. [8:28 p.m.]
[8:30] I see that Vern is working on a proper remembrance of Gus, a mentor to both of us and to many more and a behind-the-scenes hero of more political stories than I can remember. This is easily worth more than one story. Sorry to scoop Vern inadvertently; I couldn’t read him by phone. I’ll add some material from Facebook.
[8:42] It looks like people in the political community (his family, I presume, excepted) learned of his death “about 2 hours ago” (in Facebook timestamp lingo.) His last posts were from yesterday morning, on the Poseidon Water Treatment Ripoff, which now becomes among the top priorities of everyone who loved Gus. (Together, we might match him. Almost.) Vern will write more about that.
[8:48] His posts on Poseidon and other topics from Monday and from yesterday morning, the Day of the State of Union Address, which probably largely impressed and somewhat infuriated him in all of the right ways:
Is he giving money or taking money?
Gus Ayer shared a link via No Deal with Poseidon.
We wish you good fortune in the Year of the Snake.
I hope the characters I copied say that, and not “Death to running dogs of American imperialists!”
(Note: I would be sort of surprised if the characters Gus copied said anything other than ”Death to running dogs of American imperialists!” — and if he hadn’t triple-checked it to make sure.)
From Some of Gus’s Friends:
[Most of these appeared within an hour of the first report that Gus was dead. Anyone who wants their contribution taken down, just say so. I'm guessing no one will.]
This one wasn’t the first comment, but it deserves to be listed first. From Gus’s great friend and political ally Connie Boardman:
While we all grieve, I want to express my deep condolences to Verna, Gus’s wife, and his sons Ethan and Elliot.
And some other blog tributes:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/13/1187022/-I-lost-a-dear-friend-today#comments – “ellinorianne”
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/13/1187030/-An-Orange-County-Progressive-Giant-Gone-aeolus – “joeesha”
Celebrate Gus-mas! — Michael Wellborn (Gus was born the day before Boxing Day).
I had so much to tell you that happened today….. — Greg Ridge, Gus’s colleague on many issues.
I love you, Gus — Melissa Fox
Wish you were still here. – Susan Kopicki
I am sad beyond words. One of the sweetest, funniest, most knowledgeable men in OC politics has passed away. Gus Ayer, I will miss you so much. — Shelley Haggerty
Gus Ayer, thanks for all you have done to fight the good fight as a progressive. You will be sadly missed and thought of often. Rest in Peace friend. — Sunbie Harrell
I’d love to have one more hike with you buddy. — Connie Boardman
Laugh for me Gus. Just one more time. We miss you. — Debbie Cook
Thank you for being my first political mentor and humoring my sardonic humor. I am grateful to have known you; you are truly one of a kind. May you rest in eternal (and progressive) peace. AND Shocked, saddened, and heartbroken for all my friends who are even more shocked and saddened than I. We lost one of the good ones today. Honorable Gus Ayer, thank you for being the progressive compass for Orange County. You will be missed. – Angelica Ramos.
Too shocked and sad. A mentor, friend, teacher, ally, my mayor.
Gus why have you left us so very very too soon. We still need you, your wit, spirit and wisdom. – Ken Arnold.
I love you man and I will miss you more than you know. — Joe Shaw
Gus Ayer, friend and former mayor of Fountain Valley, has passed today. So SAD! He knew how to cut through to the heart of an issue, and he was truly a man of the people. – Kathleen Speers Rockney
Gus has been the most wonderful friend to me. I will miss him and his sense of humor. It is hard to stop crying. — Stephanie Pacheco
I love you Gus. — Heather Pritchard
I’m shocked and saddened. Gus, I’m going to miss you, brother. — Miles Kurland
I am shocked and very sad to hear you are gone, Gus! You were a kindred spirit and will be missed! — Karen Ahlf
I am so saddened to learn this news. I could always rely on Gus for witty comments on my facebook posts. He was game enough to join a bunch of us in Hicksville for a weekend in the desert and always challenged the progressive in me to do more. — Todd Pelkey
We lost a dear friend today with the passing of Gus Ayer, an Orange County progressive icon. RIP, my friend. — Dante Atkins
One of a kind. Totally unselfish. There is no better friend. — Theresa Sears
I hope we can get enough dirt to fill the hole you left, it would be enough to bury a lot of corruption for sure. — Billy Folsom
I am so sorry to hear this. Gus, I was not ready for you to leave. You are my inspiration, and will continue to be. — Priscilla Cruz
Incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of a good friend and colleague, Gus Ayer. He was a mentor to me as I began working in politics, a passionate progressive, and an innovative warrior for turning Orange County blue. Once the mayor of Fountain Valley but always a fighter for justice and equality, he will be missed. Greatly. — Robert Cruickshank
I’m in shock. This heartbreaking news. [later added] When I heard about Gus’s passing, I immediately went through my photo library, hoping I’d have some unpublished images of him I could share. It’s so telling that the only photos I could find were ones where he was either nose to the grindstone or in the background, supporting everyone around him. What a wonderful man. What a loss for us all. – Marta Evry [All friends of Gus's, please do check out Marta's photos.]
Gus Ayer, you were a friend, a goofball, and you never left the car when ‘we’ walked precincts. Lazy bum! I will miss you. — Evan Parent
So sad to hear Gus Ayer passed. I loved talking with him, I always left smarter. He had such a thirst for strategy, and such an excitement over being the hardest worker around. Sure, this sucks for Democrats in California and beyond. But this sucks the worst for Orange County. Gonna miss you Gus. RIP. — Bob Brigham
We’ve lost another great leader in Orange County. Thank you Gus for your incredible talents and for sharing them with so many of us.– Melanie Schlotterbeck
I still have Gus’ last voicemail saved in Google Voice. He asked me if I wanted to go to Chris Stern’s restaurant opening with him, but I couldn’t because I was just in too much pain. I talked to him just two days ago. He called to brag about his www.nowaterdeal.comwebsite. He was talking about beta testers and an e-mail address no one checks and trying to get Dan Kalmick to fix something for him. He’d call me at least once a week, every week, just about b.s. Sometimes we went to lunch, or went on a hike. He’d been trying to get me to go hiking with him again for some time. I hurt my back a few months ago and kept saying, “Maybe in a couple of weeks when I’m feeling better.” God, who ever thought he wouldn’t have a couple of weeks? We joked once about how my family is not known for long lifespans and he’d surely outlive me. Surely. Oh god, Gus. This hurts. — Erin Shawn
Wow. I can’t believe it. Gus will be sorely missed. I’ll never forget his impact on OC… And on me. — Andrew Davey
Very sad to hear about the passing of one of Orange County’s greatest and most dedicated activists. RIP Gus Ayer — Carl Weibel
Shockingly sad; a good man, I had only met him a few times recently. Our prayers with his family — Faisal Qazi
Gus Ayer our friend, amazing politician, super sweetheart and someone who stood up for the environment passed away today. So many sad hearts tonight….I will remember him for his great laugh and upbeat attitude–and for the fact that he was one of the “good guys” that got to hang out with the powerful girls!I will miss you Gus! — Pam Keller
Gus Ayer was a true fighter for real progress in Orange County and was always dedicated to including students in his fight. I will never forget when he donated his printer and 6 hours of his time to help me print maps for my voter reg drive in 2010. Even when people told him his ideas were crazy, he kept pushing. His smile and laugh always brought people together and he will be truly missed. Thanks, Gus for all your hard work. The world is a better place because of it. — Lauren Lee
I just found out that my friend, political consultant Gus Ayer passed away. I am very, very sad. Gus was a hellava activist, a hellava political mind and a damn good Progressive Democrat. California politics will never be the same. — Moses Ross
My heart goes out to all who are deeply affected by Gus Ayer’s departure from this world today. Wherever he is, I’m sure he’s already working in changing it for the better. Just like he did here. – Nicole Marie
Gus was one of the good guys, always ready for the good political fight. Gus was a friend, advisor…witty, smart with a big heart. Devastating. — Lorraine Prinsky
We will miss you so much Gus. Your legacy of honest public service and committment to protecting our communities & environment will not be forgotten. I’ll miss strategizing and crunching political data with you. — Katrina Foley
Love you Gus. You brought a lot of witty and downright funny commentary about our mixed up political world. We will miss you. — Mike Matsuda
We’ll add more in time. I just wanted to document the outpouring of affection for this man. — GAD