Longtime Montgomery County Commissioner Elton Dean has died
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Longtime Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton N Dean Sr. has died, according to county officials. County Commission vice-chairman Doug Singleton said Dean passed away Tuesday morning. He was 72-years-old.
According to a statement from the county commission, Dean had been ill for several months prior to his death. He passed away peacefully in his sleep with his family by his side.
“Our hearts go out to Dean’s immediate and extended family during this difficult time, and we ask that you please keep them in your thoughts and prayers,” the statement read.
Dean was first elected to the Montgomery County Commission in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020. He was elected vice-chairman of the commission in 2004 and was then named chairman in 2009, a role he served passionately and tirelessly until his recent illness, the commission added.
Dean was also Montgomery’s first African American county commission chairman.
“Elton was more than a commissioner; he was like a big brother to us all. We looked to him for his insight as a leader and his words of wisdom,” said Singleton. “I will always treasure our endless discussions about his love for his county and baseball.”
Most recently, the county commission named a park after the longtime commissioner. Elton N. Dean Sr. Park sits on 15 acres on the west side of Montgomery and serves as the city’s newest and largest park. It features a 5-acre pond with two pavilions and a playground.
Montgomery Mayor Steve Reed reacted to the news, saying “ I think we will certainly miss his contributions to this city and this county and to this community. I certainly hope that his family and friends know that we are praying for them, and we are supporting them in this time of grief.”
He released this statement:
“With the passing of a leader like Elton N. Dean, Sr., our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Of course, Chairman Dean’s legacy deserves so much more than that. As the first Black chairman of the Montgomery County Commission, he was always sensitive to the needs of the Westside district that he represented as well the needs of our entire county. As a friend and advisor to those who have held the Mayor’s Office over the last two decades and as a dedicated public servant himself, Chairman Dean warrants so much more recognition for the work he has done on behalf of our community. There are countless projects and initiatives that could not have happened without his leadership and support. His legacy will leave a distinct impression that will be felt for years to come. I remain grateful to his family for sharing him with us, and we will support them during this time of loss as Chairman Dean did for so many others.”
Former Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said it was with “great sadness” that he learned of Dean’s passing.
“Our lives intertwined decades ago in community, economic development, and political endeavors. Over the years together on the County Commission and subsequently in our roles as Chair and Mayor, we worked to bring our community together and improve the quality of life for all. Elton’s commitment to leading his fellow Commissioners was visionary and our community is better for his efforts. His successes are numerous and impactful. Modernization of the County Courthouse downtown to development throughout the County including Hyundai and the County Industrial Park are but a few lasting memorials. His commitment to educating our youth was a special passion and he worked tirelessly to provide the resources to help our children and young adults. Our community sends its condolences and appreciation for his life to his family and to those he touched as he labored in his “beloved community.”
Town of Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone offered the following statement following the passing of Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean:
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean. We extend our deepest condolences and our prayers to Chairman Dean’s family and his many friends during this difficult time. Chairman Dean dedicated so much of his life to serving the Montgomery County community with great passion and selflessness. It is my hope that his bold legacy of service will be an inspiration and encourager to local leaders, both to those of us who have had the pleasure of working alongside him and to the leaders of the future.”
Chief Officer Ellen McNair with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce called Dean “A statesman,” and said “the entire county commission, in particular Elton, was just such a wonderful partner for economic development...He was poised under duress. He was always measured in his responses. In times of very stressful situations he was always poised. He was always very calming voice in a conversation, or a discussion or a negotiation.”
Dean also previously served on the ASU Board of Trustees.
Alabama State University President Quinton T. Ross, Jr. released the following statement regarding Dean’s passing:
“Alabama State University is deeply saddened by the loss of former Board Chairman Elton N. Dean, Sr. Chairman Dean was a beloved member of the Hornet Nation who was a great contributor to this University, particularly as the leader of the Board of Trustees during a period of unprecedented growth. Chairman Dean deeply loved his alma mater and was committed to the advancement of its mission and vision. He truly embodied the best of that “Ole ‘Bama State Spirit” in all of his professional and personal achievements. His presence will be missed, but his legacy will live forever at Alabama State University.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey noted that Dean was an “effective advocate” and “a good man,” while offering her condolences.
Despite the chairman’s passing, Tuesday’s meeting of the county commission went on as scheduled.
“I struggled this morning coming from the hospital here to the meeting,” Commissioner Singleton explained. “I had a few calls asking if we were going to cancel the meeting. I think we all know Elton’s answer to that question would be ‘Are you crazy? No, you are going to have this meeting!’ I think it was good for us to celebrate together and mourn together.”
Commissioner Dan Harris recalled a lifelong friend in Dean. “I’ve known Elton since childhood. He would probably have never wanted me to say this while he was still around, but Elton is the reason I am here today.”
“I can say honestly that Elton Dean and I showed each other a tremendous amount of love and respect,” added Commissioner Ronda Walker. :I would say out of all the elected officials that I deal with that he showed me more respect than any of them.”
Funeral services for the chairman have not yet been announced.
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