Following the death of longtime councilman Ray Goodgame, the city proclaimed a day in his honor before choosing an interim to fill his seat for the remainder of his term.

CLERMONT — At a meeting Tuesday night, city officials proclaimed Aug. 13 as Edwin Ray Goodgame Day in Clermont in honor of his 15-year service to the city as a councilman.

“WHEREAS, the City of Clermont honors individuals who exhibit the qualities of champions, including courage, dedication, and commitment, and WHEREAS, Council Member Goodgame was recently nominated for the Florida League of Cities’ 'E. Harris Drew' Municipal Official Lifetime Achievement Award,” the proclamation reads.

Goodgame died on July 28. His wife of 63 years, Judy, and his daughter Lisa Skul, in town from Chicago, accepted a framed copy of the proclamation, which listed his accomplishments, from Mayor Gail Ash. The duo was also given a plaque by City Manager Darren Gray.

“I was hired in 2004 in April and he was elected in November 2004 and what I always say is that 'He used to wear me out, let me tell you,' ” Gray joked. “But I have never met someone that’s so passionate for our city, whether it was his feeding program to feed the homeless, whether it was a traffic light, whether it was the homeless… anything that he felt the city needed, he was our true champion.”

Gray also told guests how he would meet with Goodgame at IHOP for two hours every two weeks at 7 or 7:30 a.m. to go over the agenda for the upcoming City Council meeting.

“But he hardly ever got through the agenda. He always talked about things that he wanted to do for the city or solve issues or problems that were going on, because if there was an accessible person, that was him. He was out and about everywhere and mainly most of that meeting was to give me a list to take to handle things,” Gray said. “So thank you for sharing him with us for these last 15 years and thank you for choosing Clermont.”

“I had no choice,” Judy Goodgame responded, drawing much applause and laughter.

After the presentation, she said that even when outside of the public’s view, her husband's passion never wavered. She said he would come home after every meeting and would not go to bed until after he wrote up a summary to send to his constituents.

She also said anything Clermont was his favorite topic of conversation, adding that since 2004, he’d saved every city document, agenda, program, etc., he was ever given.

“He really fell in love with Clermont,” Judy said.

Skul said she was thankful that her dad had this outlet over the years.

“This was his job after he retired. He had so much energy. He would talk to us about it all the time and all our visits and vacations were planned around meetings and events when possible,” Skul said, adding that her only disappointment was that he never made it home to meet his newest great-granddaughter, born last month.

The meeting continued after the presentation. During a planned discussion about filling Goodgame’s seat, council members decided it was best to appoint someone immediately to finish out his term. Ash explained that it was for the sake of offering full council decisions to applicants or citizens making requests in the next three months.

Gray said many people had contacted him since Goodgame’s death to voice their interest in finishing out the term. At the meeting, all were given three minutes to pitch their qualifications.

In the end, former longtime Councilman Keith Mullins was appointed. The reason: because of his recent experience serving on council, he would not have the natural “learning curve” people new to the job normally experience.

“Anybody who’s been new to the council or has ever served on the council knows it takes a long time to learn the regulations, the resolutions, the do's and the don’ts and how you address issues,” Ash said.

Some people in the audience argued that it was unfair for the council to rule out new, but still qualified applicants. But in the end, the council members stuck to their guns, considering the interim person would only be serving for five meetings, two of which are budget hearings.

Mullins said he has no agenda; he only wants to help the city ahead of the election to permanently fill the seat.

Goodgame had chosen not to run again because of his declining health. Jim Purvis and Joe Gustafson already are candidates for the seat.

“Some of the people had some great ideas and would have been great on the council, but not for this short timeframe,” Mullins said after the meeting about the nominees he was chosen over. “I think I was the best choice when it comes to experience because I can hit the ground running better than the others.”