"Big Shoes for Somebody to Fill;" College Place Taking its Next Steps After Mayor's Death

<p>Mayor Rick Newby</p>

Mayor Rick Newby

The College Place community is mourning the loss of its mayor tonight.

After serving for five years as mayor, Richard Newby died at the age of 54 in his home on SE Highland Park Dr.

David Woolsen, President and CEO of the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce worked closely with Newby for four years and said he was shocked to hear the news this morning.

"Rick was very passionate about the community and he loved the Walla Walla Valley, loved College Place," said Woolsen. "He was a smart, intelligent, caring and just a likeable guy."

Emergency workers responded to Newby's home in the late afternoon yesterday to find him in full cardiac arrest.

Newby was pronounced dead at the scene, survived by his wife and several children.

Woolsen said it's a big loss for the community because Newby played an important role helping the city grow by creating a business friendly environment.

"Rick was a very strong proponent of business, they've had a lot of development in College Place, a lot of it because of his doing and he created a very positive environment for business," said Woolsen.

Newby had been appointed mayor in March 2009 after former Mayor Ed Ammon moved to Denver.

He was elected to his first full term in 2010 and re-elected to a second term in November.

"Rick is going to be a tough guy to replace because he was a unique talent and it's going to be big shoes for somebody to fill," said Woolsen. 

The coroner said the final autopsy and toxicology results will be released in 6-8 weeks.

There is no word yet on a funeral but the coroner did say it will be a burial.

As for the city of College Place, City Administrator Patrick Reay will run day-to-day operations for now and the city council has 90 days to appointment a new mayor to serve until the next general election, in November 2015.