Wexford County Commissioner Michael Bengelink died unexpectedly Friday at the age of 73.
He served several terms as a county commissioner from 1980 to 1982, 1994 to 1998, and 2016 to 2022.
Community members are mourning the loss and remembering all he did for Wexford County.
“I’ve known him my whole life. He’d always call you kid. He knew my whole, and talking to him would be like talking to an uncle,” said Wexford County Sheriff Trent Taylor.
Bengelink was passionate about Wexford County severing on several county boards during his time as commissioner.
“He knew that for government to work, good people had to step up,” said Joe Porterfield, Administrator for Wexford County.
He sat on the finance, executive, human resource and public safety committees.
“It was nice to have him in our corner when it came to establishing the direction we wanted to go,” explained Sheriff Taylor. “Bengelink was a big part of recruiting, getting the program where we recruit people to the police academy.”
Over the last four decades, one of Bengelink’s accomplishments has been bringing the veteran wall to fruition at the Wexford County courthouse.
“He was always very passionate and very supportive of anything that had to do with our veterans,” said Porterfield.
Not only will what Bengelink did for the county live on but also the lessons he taught people close to him.
“I learned that in government, sometimes you have to be tough, and you have to make decisions that might not always be popular with everybody,” explained Porterfield. “Not that I didn’t know that ahead of time. But Mike just reiterated those things, and he was willing to stand up and make those hard decisions when they needed to be made, and he taught me to do the same,” said Porterfield.
The Wexford County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to appoint former Cherrygrove Township Supervisor Kathleen Adams to fill Bengelink’s spot.
Commissioner Michael Bush was unanimously voted to fill the Vice Chairmain position for the rest of the year.