By Rene Ray De La Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted May 23, 2018 at 9:44 AM Updated May 23, 2018 at 4:58 PM

HESPERIA — The community is mourning the unexpected passing of Mayor Russ Blewett.

The city of Hesperia announced Wednesday morning that the 74-year old mayor had died “early this morning, surrounded by his family.”

Mayor Pro Tem Bill Holland, who was with Blewett’s family at City Hall, choked back tears as he spoke to the Daily Press, saying he was “shocked and devastated” by the passing of his “friend.”

“I’ve sent messages to all the local mayors, Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, Congressman (Paul) Cook and Senator Scott Wilk,” Holland said. “The family has also asked that all correspondence be done through the city of Hesperia.”

Councilman Paul Russ said he was “heartbroken” and “devastated” by the passing of Blewett, calling the former mayor, “A good man who loved his family, friends and the citizens of Hesperia.”

“His heart was always in the right place and he believed in what he was trying to accomplish,” Russ said. “He was always in my corner and I respected him for that.”

Blewett told the Daily Press earlier this month that he was still at Desert Valley Hospital recovering from a surgical procedure he had undergone in mid-December.

Blewett, who had participated in all City Council meetings over nearly five months via an online telecommunications app, said he was “doing well” and looking forward to being “back in the saddle soon.”

“I’ve had a couple of setbacks, but things are looking better every day,” Blewett recently told the Daily Press. “It’ll be good to be back on the dais again.”

Holland shared how he would speak with Blewett twice a week, the two talking about the upcoming election, local, state and national politics, and city events.

“He would always tell me that he was coming back and to tell others that he was on his way,” Holland said. “Russ is tough as nails, so to say this was a shock would be an understatement.”

Councilman Larry Bird called Blewett a “wonderful man” and one of the most “encouraging” individuals he’d ever met, adding the late-mayor was well respected in the community and a “close friend” to his family.

“We’ve known his family for over 30 years, they are wonderful people and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” Bird said. “He was so lively the last time we spoke to him. It’s hard to see someone leave us who was bigger than life.”

Councilwoman Rebekah Swanson called Blewett a “friend, a colleague and a fellow Hesperian,” adding that he was a “great advocate” for the citizens of Hesperia, who was able to accomplish much during his time in office.

“We didn’t always agree, but we still respected one another, and through his difficult convalescence, he was cheerful and positive every time we spoke or spent time together,” Swanson said. “The loss for Hesperia is great, but he will live on through the positive and thoughtful governance that he exhibited. My prayers and thoughts to his family.”

Tributes began coming in early in the day from other elected officials.

“Mayor Russ Blewett was a tireless public servant who cared deeply about the city of Hesperia and its citizens,” state Senator Scott Wilk said in a written statement provided by his staff. “He left an indelible mark on the community that he loved so much. “My wife Vanessa and I send our heartfelt condolences to Russ’s family and friends.”

Assemblyman Jay Obernolte also expressed his condolences, saying, “I was extremely saddened to learn of the unexpected death of Russ Blewett. Russ spent much of his life as a public servant. No matter where he lived, he always played an active role in his community and was dedicated to improving the lives of others. I greatly admired him.

To read expanded article, click here.