The City of Hamburg will say goodbye to the mayor who loved the outdoors so much he was sworn into office wearing duck hunting camouflage in a public ceremony in the Hamburg City Park.
Mayor Dane Weindorf, 74, died Saturday of complications following a surgery. He had served the city as its chief executive officer for a little more than 10 years at the time of his death.
Weindorf was born Sept. 20, 1946, in St. Paul, Minn., into a family of six children, and died Feb. 20, 2021, as a father of four, grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of seven.
Weindorf spent the majority of his working life as the owner and operator of grocery stores, and he served as the CEO of JADE’s — an acronym for Joe and Dane Enterprises, the business he started with Joe Foote. The first shop he owned, Dane’s Little Store, opened in Crossett in 1972. By the time he retired approximately 30 years later, the grocery business included seven stores.
When he ran for Hamburg’s top office in 2010, he beat then-mayor Gordon Hennington at the ballot box. He took office in 2011 and served until the time of his death.
City Clerk Peggy Akers had already been elected to her position when Weindorf took office, and served as the clerk for the entirety of his service.
“It was a pleasure to work with Dane,” Akers said. “We could sit down and discuss things, and most of the time everything was kind of eye-to-eye, but if we disagreed on anything at all, he was always very willing to listen. He would just say, ‘Peggy, keep me on track.’
“He really had a heart for the city.”
As the city’s lead executive, Weindorf oversaw infrastructure upgrades and successfully rallied voters to adopt a half-cent sales tax that funded significant improvements to city parks and built a new fire station.
The push for the fire station was two-fold. While the new structure on North Main Street would house the city’s firefighting apparatuses, it would also ultimately serve as an ambulance bay — a plan that proved prescient after the city signed a contract with ProMed Ambulance to provide EMS service to Hamburg and eastern Ashley County.
Even as recently as his last council meeting, Jan. 25, Weindorf was pushing for fire-related improvements, seeking permission from the council to bid on a ladder fire truck that was up for sale.
Most recently, Weindorf had pushed for — and rejoiced publicly when it came through — the installation of high speed Internet in Hamburg.
“The mayor was very dedicated to seeing Hamburg improve and taking care of its citizens,” City Attorney Paul Keith said. “He was innovative without being revolutionary, and was always looking for opportunities to make things better in Hamburg. For me, he was very easy to work with; we had a great relationship.”
Weindorf’s last year as mayor was defined in part by COVID-19, which he admitted in his 2020 State of the City speech was “really scary for us.” However, under his watch the city government only lost 10 working days to COVID quarantining issues.
One of his final projects was remodeling City Hall to allow residents to pay their city bills by drive-through or by in-person methods that better allowed social distancing.
Weindorf had labored with his doctors against a form of cancer in recent years, and at one time he had been declared in remission and cancer free. The surgery from which he was unable to recover, however, was related to the disease.
In a reply to the city’s online announcement of Weindorf’s death, former state Rep. LeAnne Burch, who Weindorf gave a key to the city in December, remembered him as an inspiration.
“What an amazing man,” she wrote. “He has touched so many of us and inspired us to be better, do more, care for our communities, families, and God over all. Prayers for his family and loved ones. Prayers for Hamburg.”
Hamburg Police Chief Johnny Oliver also responded to the announcement by saying that Weindorf was a good friend.
“I have seen up close his love for his family, the people; the City of Hamburg and Ashley County; and what he has done for me, the police department, and the city,” Oliver wrote. “He meant more to me than being the mayor; he was a dear friend and I will miss him.”
Weindorf was an outdoorsman, and was an active member of First Baptist Church of Hamburg.
He is survived by his wife Annette, sons Dax and Blake, and daughters Leslie and Angie, as well as eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his mother Esther, his father Werner, and his grandsons, Joel Whitlow Foote and Lucas Fillmore Weindorf.
While final service arrangements have not been announced, the family has said it will include an outdoor memorial service at the Hamburg City Park under the direction of Jones-Hartshorn Funeral Home.
The family will have a private burial in the Hamburg Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor the late mayor can donate to the Ashley County Museum, PO Box 28, Hamburg, AR 71646, in his honor.
A Facebook group for sharing memories of the late mayor can be found at bit.ly/3sjcww8.