By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON – Her strong devotion to her city and her kindness to others were echoed often Dec. 4 as officials and friends remembered the late Mayor Kyle Stack at Trenton City Hall.
Speakers included retired City Administrator Jim Wagner, newly sworn in Trenton Mayor Steven Rzeppa, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12th District), Wayne County Commissioner Joseph Palamara and Jim Perry, executive director of the Downriver Community Conference.
Wagner, who moderated the memorial, said Stack was a friend, colleague and like a “second wife” to him.
Rzeppa said Stack would go above and beyond to help people in the community, and to make the city a better place. He said people often came up to her in public to thank her for things she had done for them and others.
“That, truly, above all else, is the story of Kyle’s life,” Rzeppa said. “A dedication to a cause far greater than any of us, to compassion, to community and to human decency.”
He said whether the cameras were rolling or she was just running errands around town, Stack was the same person, with her love of Trenton and others always paramount.
“Not only did she grace the office of mayor with honor, but she graced all of our lives with honor as well,” Rzeppa said. “She had a true gift to make everyone feel welcome, respected, heard and just as proud of our community as she was every single day.”
He said Stack was more than a mayor and a public servant. She was a wife, sister and daughter, and a leader, Rotarian, volunteer, community servant and a friend.
Dingell said she remembers the sparkle that Stack would have in her eyes, as well as her calmness and steadiness.
“You always had our back,” Dingell said. “You led the city with a firm hand and a big heart, and I think that is a wonderful way to remember Kyle.”
She said the words “life and service” describe Stack’s life.
“Kyle was a loving friend, who was always there for anyone who needed help, and embraced life for all it was worth, and was devoted to making life better for everyone,” Dingell said.
From a service perspective, Dingell said Stack gave her all to making Downriver and Trenton a better place to live, work and go to school.
“She loved Trenton, she loved Downriver and devoted herself to it, in good times and bad,” Dingell said. “As a community, we all remember what she did, and we have a responsibility to continue her work, and to make sure her spirit isn’t lost.”
Like each of the speakers, Dingell said there were thousands of stories of how Stack helped people.
“When someone was in need, she ran the fundraiser,” Dingell said.
She said Stack was instrumental in getting the McLouth cleanup begun.
“She knew how to bring people together, and start to get people to get things done,” Dingell said. “And that is how she was about Elizabeth Park, the Wildlife Refuge – there are so many things she touched and made possible, and we can’t forget that.”
She said Stack was a friend, an advisor and a visionary leader.
“Steve, you’ve got big shoes to fill,” Dingell said. “It is clear how much she meant to you. She mentored you, and we are all going to be there to help you, because that is what Kyle would want us to do.”
Palamara said he always admired the humble and sincere approach Stack brought to elected office.
“Kyle Stack never, ever had to go around and demand respect from anybody,” Palamara said. “But, by the way she conducted herself, Kyle Stack earned respect from everybody.”
He said Stack always put the well being of Trenton first, and he wished more people could be like her.
“Mayor Stack had an especially good relationship with Wayne County, and vice versa,” Palamara said. “Elizabeth Park may have been at the core of that positive energy, but it extended way beyond the boundaries of that marina and the beautiful county park, and Kyle frequently reminded me that Trenton could always put to good use some of that Wayne County Parks millage money that is dedicated strictly to local park improvements. She always had a city park project that she said was ‘good to go.’”
He said to the city of Trenton, Wayne County and the state of Michigan, the loss of Stack cannot be overstated.
“Her humility and sense of purpose was second to none,” Palamara said. “Anybody who ever knew Kyle Stack is a better person for having Kyle be a part of their life.”
Perry said Stack was always thinking about economic development, not just for Trenton, but for the entire area.
“She just had great vision, but what I liked about her most was her integrity,” Perry said.