AURORA -- Former City Council member Joe Kastelic is remembered fondly by Council members who served with him during his 16-year tenure leading the city.

He passed away April 21 after a battle with Multiple System Atrophy, a very rare, rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease. It impacts the autonomic systems of the body, resulting in a loss of the ability to walk, talk, breathe and swallow.

According to an email sent to the Advocate by his wife Anne, "We need public awareness to improve research dollars for this devastating disease."

Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said Mr. Kastelic was "involved in many things. I've known Joe a long time. He was truly committed to his community, and he was a person of great integrity."

According to Council clerk Donna Hawks, he served on Council from 1998-2013, eventually losing an election to current member Amy McDougald, who said his family is in her prayers.

"He loved this community very much," said Hawks. "Unfortunately, we lost him, but he was truly an asset to the community. It's a very sad thing."

Council member Jim Vaca said he will "miss him dearly. I've known Joe since the early '90s. He and I were on the safety committee together. We didn't see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues, but I can tell you this -- his heart was for this city."

City Council President George Horvat said he will miss Mr. Kastelic.

"I had the opportunity to work as a Councilman with Mr. Kastelic for 16 years," he said. "Joe was a tremendous individual and a fine Council person and colleague. He was always well-prepared and educated to this city."

Mr. Kastelic also served as an auctioneer for city auctions, helped with the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life events and other activities in the community, according to Council member Kathi Grandillo, who said he helped recruit dunking booth "victims" for the annual Relay.

"Joe always got the dunking booth there and got the principals and teachers into the dunking booth," she said. "And the line was longer than you can imagine. He was a fantastic man."

Mr. Kastelic was seemingly helping out everywhere in the community, said Council member Dennis Kovach. "He was a great guy," he said. "He just did everything. If you needed something, he was there."

Kovach said he was an exceptionally good Council colleague as well.

"He was probably one of the better guys to work with," he said. "We were able to talk things out with him. He was very level-headed. He was just easy to work with. His whole family's like that."

Councilman Harold Hatridge noted, "You can talk all you want about somebody -- what they did in their lives -- but about the best thing you can say is 'he was a good man.' Well, Joe Kastelic was a good man."

Kastelic was a 32-year firefighter with the Pepper Pike department and was a 30-year Aurora resident. Mass of Christian Burial was observed April 29 at Steinbauer Funeral Home in Bainbridge.

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