The late Mark Breneman is seen here giving the presentation for a Byron Chamber 'Lunch and Learn' held at city hall, lower level, on May 26, 2016. Breneman passed away on Feb. 27.
Photo by Melanie Dobson
By Gretta Becay
Everyone liked Mark Breneman. "[He] was intelligent, insightful and kind," said former Mayor Ann Diercks.
He always had a smile and a kind word for anyone he met and he was a tireless supporter of the city of Byron both as a volunteer and by serving as the city attorney for the last few years.
His sudden death Feb. 27 - just shy of his 70th birthday, March 2 - will be lamented by the community for years to come.
Byron City Administrator Mary Blair-Hoeft said that Breneman had started as the city attorney in 2014. "He was like a hidden gem. He was a wonderful advocate for Byron and such a support for me," she said.
"We first met when he became a chamber member. As time went on and he became the city attorney, it was obvious he loved learning about ways to help the city and he cared about Byron. He looked at it from a legal prospective and from his love of the city."
Diercks agreed wholeheartedly. "I was lucky to get to know him through the City when he was the city attorney and I the mayor. I also worked with him on the Chamber of Commerce board while he was president. He was wise and did not hesitate to offer his insights, not just as a lawyer but also as a friend and a individual with numerous life experiences. I always looked forward to hearing his stories of living on the farm and growing vegetables. There was always humor, information and lessons learned. Mark will be truly missed. "
Mark really shone during his time with the Chamber of Commerce and in his support of people there.
Mickey Elias, who owns Elias Construction, said, "Mark was also the reason I took on the position of vice president and joined the Chamber board. He was a wonderful mentor to me in my role and amazing advocate for the Byron community.
"I was shocked to learn ... of Mark's passing, I don't believe it's fully set in that he's really gone... I had worked with Mark for several years consulting on both business and personal matters including writing wills for my wife and I. He was always there to genuinely help in any way he could."
Amy J. McGinnis served as Chamber administrator as a result of Mark's encouragement.
"I met Mark about 3 1/2 years ago at a monthly business meeting I attended. After our initial meeting I continued to see him for a few hours each time the group met. Out of the blue one day he called me and asked if I'd be interested in applying to a job at the Byron Chamber of Commerce. I applied and ended up becoming the Chamber administrator for 18 months while he was the vice president and president of the chamber's executive board.
Read the rest of the story in the print edition of the Star Herald or Byron Review.