Long-serving Brainerd Mayor James Wallin died suddenly Saturday morning from a suspected heart attack, according to reports.
Several individuals and organizations in the northern Minnesota city have been paying tribute on social media. The Brainerd Airport said on its Facebook page that the news was confirmed by his brother, John.
"The Airport and the entire Brainerd Lakes Area lost a true champion and friend early this morning with the death of Mayor James Wallin," the posting said. "John Wallin, James' twin brother, confirmed on his Facebook page that James passed away at 3:00 AM today from cardiac arrest."
Wallin had served as mayor of Brainerd since 1998. Minnesota's U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is among those who have been paying their respects.
Brainerd city administrator Jim Thoreen told KSTP that he had spoken with Wallin on Thursday and said he was "shocked" by his death.
Just a few weeks ago, Wallin was honored at a meeting of the City Council, when he was named the 2015 Brainerd Citizen of the Year, according to the Brainerd Dispatch.
Wallin was first elected to the council in 1977, but the newspaper notes that he had some recent health issues, requiring back surgery recently that caused him to miss some meetings.
Also paying tribute were State Sen. Carrie Ruud
">and TV station Lakeland PBS, who said he will be "sorely missed."