REDWOOD FALLS - Corey Theis said he'd held the gavel at meetings of the Redwood City Council before. But at the council's organizational meeting Thursday night, it wasn't the same, knowing that Mayor Gary Revier would not be returning.
"It felt like he should be there," said Theis, one of the council members who served with Revier. "He's going to be greatly missed. It still hasn't really sunk in yet."
Revier died Dec. 20, at the age of 67. In addition to his service as Redwood Falls mayor, area residents say they're remembering Revier's contributions as a local historian and a person deeply involved with the community.
When it came to knowing the history of Redwood Falls and the surrounding region, Scott Larson said, "Gary was the man. He was a walking encyclopediaGoogle Gary, some people called him."
Larson served with Revier on the board of the Redwood County Historical Society. He said Revier could uncover information about Redwood County history with surprising quickness and detail. He loved collecting old photographs, and sharing them with others. Larson said a lot of times, that meant sending photos to the people who'd be most interested in them, even if they lived in other parts of the state. Revier's passion for history even extended to doing a regular show on the topic on KLGR Radio.
This fall, Revier was voted the first ever emeritus at-large director for the Redwood County Historical Society, Larson said. He said Revier would likely be the only person to receive that title.
In addition to history, public service played a key role in Revier's life, local residents said. Revier was a Vietnam veteran, who served two tours of duty as an aerial reconnaissance photographer and helicopter crewman with the U.S. Navy. He ran for Redwood Falls City Council at the age of 23 and became the youngest person to serve on the council. He went on to become the youngest person to serve as Redwood Falls mayor and was elected to multiple terms at different times in his life. He also ran for Congress twice, Larson said, although he was not elected.
Revier was involved with many city and community organizations and also served on the Redwood Falls School Board. He a hand in city projects including the construction of the current Redwood Valley High School and Redwood Falls community center buildings, improvements to Ramsey Park and more. After he retired, he put in many volunteer hours at the local food shelf.
"The first time I met him, he was just so encouraging to people," Theis said. As a leader, Revier was supportive of actions that would encourage growth and progress in Redwood Falls and was open to feedback from community members.
"He was dedicated to the city," Theis said.
Marty Caraway, the Redwood County Veterans Services Officer, said Revier was one of the first people he met when he moved to the area. Although Caraway said he was nervous at first about talking to the mayor, Revier was always friendly.
"He made everyone feel special," Caraway said. "He would never leave a room, your presence, or a phone call in haste or in confrontation."
Caraway said Revier "helped tremendously" in establishing the Redwood County Warriors project, which helps veterans going through financial hardship. Revier would also visit area cemeteries on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, to place flags at veterans' graves.
Larson said Revier had a "passion for compassion," which led him to volunteer for the local food shelf and to support area veterans.
"He never said, 'I can't,' and he never said, 'We shouldn't,'" Larson said. "He was always optimistic, sometimes to the point of maybe being too optimistic."