PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - People throughout Phenix City are in mourning after 73-year-old City Council Member Max Wilkes passed away Thursday night at St. Francis hospital in Columbus.
"His love for the city. He just loves people and being involved and he liked to be around people," said Malinda Wilkes describing her husband.
Wilkes passed away Thursday at the hospital reportedly after suffering a stroke.
"Nobody was expecting this. 9 o'clock Wednesday night Max was laughing, joking, and cutting up in a meeting and then three or four hours later he was in the emergency room at the hospital," said Council Member at Large Jimmy Wetzel.
Wetzel says his good friend Wilkes will be remembered for his impact on the community.
Wilkes worked for Phenix City for nearly 30 years serving in different roles like Parks and Recreation Director, Municipal Court Clerk, at one time acting as City Manager, and for the last four years, he represented District one on the Phenix City Council.
"Anytime you attended an event in Phenix City, you knew that Max Wilkes was going to be there. Whether he was a city official or out of office, for all these years, he has just been so much a part of everybody's lives," said Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter.
Wilkes also had a passion for helping kids through sports. Wetzel says he was a leader in the building of baseball and softball fields in Idle Hour Park and was instrumental in the renovation of Garrett-Harrison Stadium.
Earlier this year, he was inducted into the Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame.
"He felt like if you can keep young children involved in activities like that and keep them busy, it keeps them out of trouble," said Wetzel.
Wilkes was also passionate about the push for a new community center in Idle Hour Park. On Tuesday, Phenix City Council gave the last stamp of approval for the project to move forward.
On Friday, as flags flew at half mast and bows were scattered throughout Phenix City, his wife says she is grateful for all the support for his husband.
"He's done so much for the city that I don't even realize all that he has done myself, but if he was ever called on to do something, he tried to do it and do it with his best," said his wife.
Visitation for Council Member Wilkes will be at Vance Memorial Chapel in Phenix City on Sunday evening from 5 to 8 p.m.
Funeral services will take place at Lakewood Baptist Church at 11 a.m. on Monday.