Both Douglas County officials and members of the public at Tuesday’s County Board meeting paid tribute to Mike Boyle.
“Mike will always be remembered for being fearless in expressing his views,” board Chair Mary Ann Borgeson said. “But most importantly, he will always be known for amplifying his voice to help those in need.”
Boyle died Monday of pneumonia that he had contracted while recovering from lung cancer surgery. The 24-year County Board member and former Omaha mayor was 77.
“During his time on the board, Mike threw us for a loop many times with his out-of-the-box thinking and ideas,” Borgeson said. “But no matter what, he always had the residents of District 1 — the sunshine district as he so passionately called it — he had their best interests at heart, as well as all of Douglas County.”
Board member Chris Rodgers said Boyle and his wife, Anne, had helped him when he was young and just beginning to get involved in politics.
“I owe him a lot of respect and hope to honor him in the future with those things that he cared about,” Rodgers said.
Board member Jim Cavanaugh said Boyle will “leave a legacy of dedicated public service and integrity that will guide us for many years to come.”
As much as he was known for his storytelling and personal warmth, Boyle was also known for heated clashes with fellow politicians and elected officials. Noting the current divisive state of politics and American life, board member Mike Friend said what he appreciated most about working with Boyle was how he handled disagreements and arguments.
“When that debate was over, it was over,” Friend said. “And I really appreciated that because that doesn’t happen enough.”
Mike Goodwillie, compliance officer for the Douglas County Assessor’s Office, recalled that he and Boyle “had many fairly animated sparring matches at County Board meetings over the years.”
“But the thing of it is, no matter how animated or heated those sparring matches got, two things were clear to me,” Goodwillie said. “One is that it was never mean or personal. ... And second, there was a good and decent and kind person underneath. And I guess there’s a third thing, that his zeal for his job was unmatched.”
Activist Ben Salazar called Boyle “a great friend of South Omaha and the Latino community in particular.” Salazar said Boyle fought on behalf of “sometimes the disenfranchised, those who were somewhat powerless, and especially communities of color.”
A memorial ceremony will be held 3 p.m. Sunday at Heafey-Hoffmann-Dworak-Cutler Mortuaries, 7805 West Center Road. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Masks will be required.
Boyle was reelected in 2020 to represent a district that includes downtown and South Omaha. Under state law, a committee of three elected Douglas County officials — County Clerk Dan Esch, County Attorney Don Kleine and County Treasurer John Ewing — will appoint someone to complete Boyle’s term.
Reached Tuesday, Kleine said the committee members plan to wait until after Boyle’s memorial service to get together and set the process in motion.
“This is a time to reflect on his life and his public service, as he was a great public servant and his whole family has been,” Kleine said. “For right now, it’s a time for mourning, a time of sadness, and joy in celebrating the life of an individual who really gave his life to the people.”