Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday afternoon at James River High School where Botetourt Fire and EMS had positioned a large American Flag strung between two ladder trucks to mark the passing of Board of Supervisors member L.W. “Jack” Leffel.
Inside, a two-person color guard stood watch for three hours while visitors spoke with family members.
Leffel, one of the few persons to serve on both the Botetourt County School Board and Board of Supervisors, died during emergency heart surgery on December 4. He represented the Fincastle Election District on both boards, and was in his second year as chair of the Board of Supervisors.
He was eulogized by Supervisors Vice-Chair Dr. Mac Scothorn, School Board Chair Michelle Crook, Botetourt Fire and EMS Chaplain and Board of Supervisors member Ray Sloan and friend Ed McCoy.
The 74-year-old Leffel was remembered by Crook for his support of education and his work on the James River High School renovation and addition when he was on the School Board. A lifelong friend of the family, Crook also spoke about Leffel’s support of his children and his wife, Mary Lynn Leffel.
Scothorn talked about Leffel’s efforts to promote the county as a member of the Board of Supervisors and his support for the county’s agricultural community while also being a mentor and positive influence on the board.
Sloan noted that Leffel was an advocate for the county’s volunteer and career fire and EMS crews, and pointed the number who had gathered for the services.
McCoy called him a conservationist and steward of the land.
“A lifelong citizen of Botetourt County, Jack devoted his life to his family, his farm, and his community,” a news release from the Botetourt County administration said the day after his passing.
“During his time on the doard and especially as chairman, Jack oversaw tremendous changes in the county, jumpstarting economic development, supporting agricultural education, and laying the groundwork to support the needs of a changing and complex community,” the statement said. “He was a man of vision. He believed in the future of Botetourt County and in all the great work that the citizens could do when they join together for greater purposes.”
“He will be missed,” County Administrator Gary Larrowe said.
The Board of Supervisors has 60 days to recommend an appointment to the seat that the circuit court judge must approve. Presumably, that appointment will be to the end of Leffel’s term. The Fincastle District seat is up for election in November 2019 along with the Valley and Blue Ridge District seats.
Leffel’s election to the Board of Supervisors evolved after former Fincastle District board member Don Meredith died in early 2010— midway through his second term. The supervisors appointed Donna Vaughn to fill the seat until a special election that November. Larry Ceola was elected that fall to finish the last year of Meredith’s term. In 2011, Ceola was unseated by Leffel who was finishing his third term on the School Board. Leffel was the only Independent on a board with four Republicans.