GAYLORD – Gaylord Mayor Bill Wishart has tendered his resignation to city council because his declining health prevents him from moving easily.
Wishart was first elected to council in 2011 and began serving as mayor in 2020.
His wife, Dona, read her husband’s letter of resignation from the board on Monday evening. Wishart thanked council members, city staff and residents for their cooperation and contributions.
“I encourage board members to continue to engage fully with our citizens and our businesses and truly love this great place we call home,” he wrote. “Personally, I also caution you to stand firm against malicious people who could potentially harm our active community spirit.
“May your future be one of success thanks to the joy you find in the work you do,” he told townspeople. “And may our community continue to be a great place for all generations to live (and) a community for life.”
City manager Kim Awrey noted that Wishart enjoyed representing the city at community functions and questioned whether he should step down when his health issues first surfaced in September.
“He really enjoyed being the face of Gaylord and took that responsibility very seriously,” Awrey said.
Former City Manager Joe Duff said Wishart was “a wonderful man who is very supportive of our city and a great mayor.”
“Since I’ve known Bill he’s known as Swish, the sound that a basketball makes through a hoop. I’ve seen the mayor go up and down the Jim Mongeau Gym refereeing games over times I can’t count, ”said Paul Gunderson, executive director of the Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce.
Jim Grisso, editor of the Gaylord Herald Times (1968-2008), said Wishart was a true community leader and public servant who had the ability to communicate with everyone.
“I met Bill right after moving to Gaylord when he was a manager at Glen’s Market,” said Grisso. “He always had strong communication skills and a positive attitude. He really likes Gaylord (and) I’m sorry to hear he’s stepping down as mayor.
Wishart’s resignation robs the city of his many years of experience which has given him a unique insight into the community. He’s also one of the few people with a direct connection to the 1960s – seen as a golden era in which Gaylord went from a quiet vacation town to a bustling commercial and social hub in northern Michigan after the Second World War.
Among the leaders that Wishart knew and with whom he served from that time on was Harold Elgas, chairman of Gaylord State Bank, who was one of the main forces in the development of Gaylord into a tourist destination and an economic / industrial / commercial engine. Gordon Everett, a Gaylord businessman who created the Alpine design concept after borrowing the idea from Frankenmuth, and Jim Mongeau, a teacher and trainer at Gaylord High School.
Elgas and Mongeau played a decisive role in the organization and launch of the Alpenfest. Wishart served on the Alpenfest board early on, according to Grisso.
Awrey said the city will advertise those interested in replacing Wishart as mayor. Anyone living in the city is eligible for the job. The Board must fill the vacant position within 60 days of November 8 when it accepts Wishart’s resignation.
Awrey said the board would interview those interested in succeeding Wishart at its December meeting and then vote on a replacement.
“We have a unique situation because Bill was elected mayor starting in January,” Awrey said.
The council will appoint a mayor to sit in December and at its first meeting in January it will again accept Wishart’s resignation and then reappoint his successor, she added.
In other areas, the council approved a site plan and special use permit for two marijuana retail outlets – Great Lakes Exotics on the site of the former Clark gas station at 820 W. Main St. and Moses Roses at 1388 W. Main St.
The board also approved a license application for a business that will transport marijuana called Michigan Secure Trucking and operated by James Davis. He plans to house his vehicles in a building at 400 W. Mitchell St.
The Board also approved a marijuana license application for CPFC Enterprises at 1377 W. Main St.