WYKOFF, Minn. — It’s been two weeks since Alan Williams died, but residents of Wykoff, Minnesota, a community of 440, are still calling city hall for the kind of services and leadership Williams became known for as mayor.

Just recently, an 80-year-old woman called city hall for help on a blown circuit breaker, knowing that Williams would be the first one there to fix the problem.

If the town was snowed in and the plow driver couldn’t get to town, Williams would jump into the truck and plow the streets himself.

Several years ago, a young family new to town faced losing their water service because of unpaid bills. Wykoff has a strict ordinance: If a resident doesn’t pay their water bill by the third month, the city shuts off the water. Williams paid the bill.

“It was totally anonymous. I was not to tell anybody. But that’s just what he did,” said Wykoff City Clerk Becky Schmidt, who worked alongside Williams for many years.

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He was that kind of mayor.

In addition to being mayor, Williams served as fire chief, on city council and school board and was a city maintenance worker of this community 31 miles south of Rochester. He coached football, softball and basketball to generations of students.

“He was a pillar of the community,” Schmidt said. “I still want to pick up the phone and call him. He had a wealth of knowledge (about running a city). We’re never going to find another person like him."

Williams, 73, died Dec. 13 of complications of COVID-19, but even before getting the virus, there were signs that Williams wasn’t feeling well, a community member said. Known as someone who never missed a city council meeting, Williams missed two in a short span.

Few knew that he was ailing, so when news spread that he had died, many in the community were shocked.

At a commemoration of his life, fire trucks arrayed outside the Wykoff Fire Department were hung with signs and symbols of a life well lived. And across the street, people from the city and surrounding communities packed the community center to honor him.

“I couldn’t believe the number of people that came,” Schmidt said. “I was just astounded.”

James Hecimovich, superintendent of Kingsland schools in Spring Valley, said that Williams was motivated by a strong sense of public service. When Wykoff closed its school as part of consolidation with Kingsland years ago, Williams helped with selling the idea to the community. When he stopped coaching sports, he was a fixture at Kingsland athletic events rooting students on.

“He’s the type of mayor that would get on a backhoe or tractor and move things,” Hecimovich said. “I mean, that’s the kind of city guy he was.”

Hecimovich said people — adults and students alike — are still grappling with the loss.

“The sad thing is that Al died right before break,” he said, “when I don’t think anybody had a chance to really process yet.”

Williams was in the middle of a fourth two-year mayoral term when he died. City Council member Ryan Breckenridge is serving out the remainder of the term. Because of turnover, a retirement and Williams' death, there will be four open seats on the council in 2022, an unusually large number.

But adjusting to the loss of Williams will take time, Schmidt said.

“We’re both kind of struggling here in the office and still getting phone calls asking for him,” Schmidt said about the two-person office. “It’s going to take a long time for everybody, especially the kids.”