Timothy D. Gover, the longtime mayor of the eastern Illinois town of Mattoon, has died. A statement issued by the city says Gover died Thursday morning, from “lingering health issues”. He was believed to be in his early 80s.
Gover, a Mattoon native, loved his home town and his home county, Coles County, according to Mattoon’s City Council Finance Commissioner and mayor pro tem, J. Preston Owen. Elected to the Mattoon City Council in 2009, Gover was appointed mayor in 2010, following the resignation of Mayor David Cline. Voter subsequently elected him to the office three times, in 2011, 2013 and 2017.
Owen says Gover worked to attract more economic activity and population to Mattoon, through the establishment of tax increment finance (TIF) districts and other types of business districts. But he said Gover also took his other statutory duties seriously, such as that of police commissioner.
“He was very, very, very involved with the men and women of the Mattoon Police Department,” said Gover. “You know, on a Friday or Saturday night, you would find him at two o’clock in the morning, riding in a police car with one of the officers, talking to him.”
Prior to his posts in Mattoon city government, Gover served as a Republican member of the Coles County Board, from 1999 to 2003. His career in politics took place after his 32-year career as Professor of Finance at Eastern Illinois University, from which he retired in 1995 after 32 years.
Gover was also a longtime director at First Federal Savings and Loan in Mattoon. He also served on the boards of several community organizations, often taking a leadership role, according to Owen. Those included the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation and the Coles County Council on Aging, where Gover served as board president, and was instrumental in establishing the Lifespan Center. As mayor of Mattoon, he served as a vice-president on the board of the Illinois Municipal League.
“I mean, he really was a servant-leader, who wanted to be involved in the community, and make it a better place,” said Owen of Gover’s community service. “But he wasn’t an overbearing leader. He was somebody that willing to get in there and work alongside anyone.”
The Mattoon City Council will appoint an acting mayor to succeed Gover. Owen says he thinks it should happen at the January 5th, 2021 council meeting. Mattoon voters will elect a new mayor next spring at the April 6 consolidated election. The filing period for Mattoon mayoral candidates to submit petitions runs from December 14 to 21.