Lloyd Mork, who's been the mayor of Irene since 2002, died in a car crash Friday evening.
"It's just something you don't get over. It'll be tough, it'll be tough going for a while," Larry Johnke said.
Mork was a pillar in the small town of Irene, where he was known to be friendly to everyone.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol says Mork was driving north on Highway 81 just north of Yankton on Friday when Becky Leapley went across the centerline. Mork swerved into the opposite lane, but Leapley returned to her lane. The two vehicles hit head-on, and both were dead at the scene. Johnke knew Mork for over 20 years and couldn't believe the news.
"I guess the best word to use was I was stunned. Hard to believe; you know it's just one of those things you say it can't happen," Johnke said.
Councilman Joseph Booth says Mork did everything for the community from coaching his sons' basketball team to helping with the city's sewer and water systems.
"He was a son of Irene, and he loved this city. He was motivated by, I think, a love of the city and the area. And it showed in the things that he did and the things he got accomplished here," Booth said.
Johnke was the Superintendent of the Irene School District before he retired and says one of Mork's greatest accomplishments was helping the school.
"I just felt he wanted to see the school and the community of Irene prosper, and he did everything he could foster that," Johnke said.
While Mork will be difficult to replace, Booth believes the town of Irene, and all its residents, will have a bright future thanks to the mayor.
"He loved life, he loved his family, he loved Irene. He had a good life and you know cut short for the rest of us, and we'll miss him," Booth said.
There is not any plans at this point to name a new mayor.
Funeral services will be 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Calvary Lutheran Church in Irene.