OLATHE, Kan. — Mayor Michael Copeland has died, according to a statement from the City of Olathe. He was 58.
He died last night, Aug. 19. The cause of his death was not specified.
Olathe Mayor Pro Tem John Bacon has assumed the role of Acting Mayor. Bacon has served on the City Council since 1995, according to the statement.
“I can’t begin to say how much Mike will be missed,” Bacon said in the statement. “I lost a great friend of 40 years, and the community lost a true advocate and cheerleader who loved Olathe. Olathe loved Mike as well. We will do our best to carry on his legacy.”
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas took to Twitter, calling Copeland a friend.
“Michael was a kind, intelligent, generous, and affable man, who dedicated his life to his family, his friends, and his community,” Lucas said. “I will miss him and this region will mis his unifying voice in these tumultuous times.”
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly also responded to the death on Twitter, saying the news saddened her.
“Mayor Copeland served his community with honor and integrity for nearly 20 years. I offer my condolences to the Mayor’s family, friends, and the Olathe community during this difficult time,” she wrote.
Copeland served as mayor for 19 years, first elected in 2001, according to the city government’s website. He was the longest-serving Olathe mayor in the city’s history, and he served as a councilmember for eight years prior.
He also personally read to thousands of school children through his “I Read with Mayor Mike” children’s literacy initiative, which was recognized by the Points of Life Foundation and First Lady Laura Bush who visited Olathe to highlight the program, according to the statement.
He was known for several non-profit and charitable initiatives, including helping children in need of vital supplies through the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, which has raised over $1.5 million dollars for Olathe children’s charities, according to a statement.