A strong advocate for the RM of Stuartburn died suddenly on Sunday.

Former reeve Jim Swidersky was known in his community as somebody who said what needed to be said and did what needed to be done.

“It feels surreal,” says CAO Lucie Maynard, “it was a shock to hear the news that he passed, and it still doesn’t quite feel real yet.”

Maynard says Jim served as either councillor or reeve for the municipality from 2002 to 2018. During that time, he was instrumental in getting cell service to the region after the devastating wildfires of 2012. Maynard indicates that when the three cell towers are erected in 2020, Jim will be one of the main people responsible.

Read more: Major Cell Reception Improvements Announced For Southeast

According to Maynard, Jim was also a loud voice for bringing back the Emergency Room in Vita. “Unfortunately that did not come to fruition, but it did open a discussion on the needs of the community.” 

Read more: Vita Makes "Big Push" To Reopen ER

Some of his objectives were accomplished, while others failed, but Maynard says Jim never stopped trying to improve the lives of his fellow residents.

“He just cared so much,” she stresses. “He brought a lot of those concerns right up to the legislative building and he went in there and let them have a piece of his mind if he felt he had something that needed to be heard.”

That same bold attitude towards progress made him effective as both reeve and as a member on the Seine Rat River Conservation District Board where Chair Cornie Goertzen came to know him.

“I see this is a big loss to the area,” shares Goertzen, “He was always willing to work with anyone he came in contact with and was always willing to ask tough questions. It’s a big hole to fill that he occupied and we will all miss him very much.”

“Jim was not only a great employer, reeve, and advocate,” agrees Maynard, “he was a friend.”

At 54 years of age, Jim Swidersky died Sunday morning in the Bethesda Regional Health Care Centre in Steinbach, but not before leaving behind him a better municipality. As per his request, Jim will not be having a public funeral but a small private memorial service later this week.