MONMOUTH -- Former three-term Monmouth Mayor Wes Hedlund died Oct. 2, a day after his truck veered off Highway 22. He was 70 years old.
Those who knew him loved his energy and drive. "He was an easy man to like," said Don Duncan. Duncan and Hedlund moved into neighboring duplexes near Oregon College of Education in 1961.
Hedlund enjoyed a goodhearted debate, Duncan recalls. "We argued politics and a whole lot of things.
"He always took the Republican side and I the Democratic, regardless of who was running."
John Hasbrook remembers arguing the same side with Hedlund on a more weighty matter -- college sports. Both rooted for the Oregon State University Beavers.
Hedlund served as Rotary president and later continued to light up meetings, Hasbrook remembers. "He had a real personality and added energy to everything he did on the volunteer level."
Hedlund was a State Farm Insurance agent for 39 years when he retired in 2001. Anita Neiffer worked in the same building as Hedlund for the last 10 years.
"He would get me roses when he was here. He treated me like I was family."
Neiffer spoke to Hedlund the day before his accident. "He was so excited to go hunting," she said. "I wished him luck."
Hedlund was a passionate hunter, Duncan said, and a good one too. "We always lied about how good we were with hunting.
"He got game when the rest of us didn't."
Hedlund couldn't have picked a better way to go, Duncan said. "He died the way he would have wanted to die -- going to hunt."
Hedlund served on the Monmouth City council for years before becoming mayor in 1985. He dedicated himself to parks, the fire department and children.
He helped bring Monmouth and Independence into a local calling area with Salem, so calls there would no longer be considered long-distance. He donated generously to Rotary causes.
Hedlund was dependable both as a friend and as a community supporter, Duncan said. "If you wanted someone on your team who could produce, Wes was the one.
"He was a hearty, good fellow, one of the guys you liked to have a cup of coffee with."
Hedlund helped Neiffer and her husband Larry get started in their realty business. "He was just a terrific guy," she said.
"He was always helping everyone."