Former councilman loved Mount Dora with shoe leather and a smile
Mount Dora lost one of its most devoted residents recently when Michael Tedder suddenly passed away. Whatever his personal conflicts might have been, Michael’s passion for this city was demonstrated time and again through public service. To understand what it means to be a committed citizen, it is good to remember Michael’s example.
Michael was a resident of Mount Dora since 1980, arriving here just in time to be an extra in the filming of Honky Tonk Freeway. Over the years he worked as a financial services and insurance advisor. He was on City Council as the District 4 representative from 2007 through 2009 and served in one of the at-large seats from 2011 – 2015.
“I had known Michael since I began working for the city in 2006,” said former mayor Cathy Hoescht. “He was a very kind and soft-spoken gentleman who always respected staff and had the interest of the City at heart. He loved the lake and enjoyed advocating for all of the waterfront projects.”
“To me personally Michael was a gentle soul,” she said. “He wasn’t outspoken about things. He was such an easygoing guy who wanted to do the best in his public service. He tried to factor in all the different thoughts. On council, Hoescht remembers Michael as “always at the meetings, always prepared, always professional.” She said he “was a careful listener who respected people’s opinions. It took a lot to push him.”
“Mike was a fine council member,” said second district council representative Cal Rolfson, who served with Tedder during the 2014-15 fiscal year. “He was considerate and cordial to fellow council members and to the public. He generally weighed his expressed opinions carefully before speaking, and I never knew him to be reactionary. I thought his views were reasonable and I know he always had the City’s best interest in mind. He served on the City Council for many years and served the City passionately in my view.”
Parks and Recreation director Roy Hughes said Michael was a great friend of the function, serving as council liaison on the Parks and Rec advisory board.
“Michael was a good guy for this city,” he said. “In the the eight years I’ve been here, he was always devoted to Mount Dora.” Hughes said Michael was involved in all of Parks and Recreation’s major waterfront projects, including the Simpson Cove Dock, 4th Avenue Dock and the Palm Island Boardwalk. He also helped with The Forres Playground Recreation and Nature Park and volunteered every year for the Leprechaun Treasure Hunt and the Summer Splash Bash.
“Michael was a 24-7 kind of guy, a doer who always did it with a smile,” said Hughes. “Even when we disagreed on things, it never deterred our relationship. There was always listening, gathering the facts and coming up with good decisions.”
While he was on council, Michael also served as council rep for the Mount Dora Community Trust distribution committee. Ed Brooks, senior advisor for the Trust, said he first got to know Michael when the Trust received a large bequest and approached the city about a project they could partner together on. “Michael was thinking at that time about things to do with the waterfront,” Brooks said. The Fourth Avenue Dock project is what resulted, with the Trust donating $30 thousand dollars to pay for the study.
“Michael was so helpful to Mount Dora,” Brooks said. “He was decisive, easy to work with, had a vision for this community and was able to accomplish a lot through his involvements.”
Former mayor Jim Yatsuk says Michael well understood the importance of maintaining strong relations with Mount Dora’s neighboring communities.
“In August 2006 the Mount Dora city council had a meeting with our Lake County commission,” Yatsuk said. “One of the discussion items was the update on the partnership to implement a storm water plan to protect Lake Gertrude and the outfall to Lake Dora. At that same meeting, Mount Dora asked for participation in completing a master plan for our area’s future recreational trail system. Michael learned to make a difference you need to include all the affected parties.”
“He also realized how long complicated projects take to come to fruition. At that same meeting in 2006, our plans for our Employment Center—now the Wolf Branch Innovation District—were discussed with the county. We also were in the middle of planning our Community Building’s renovations. Michael had a hand in all those projects. Michael was always a champion of working with the cities, the county and the state to provide a better future for Mount Dora and the Golden Triangle.”
“But make no mistake—Michael’s first priority was Mount Dora.”
Rob English, president of the Mount Dora Area Chamber of Commerce, says Michael was for many years an advocate and committed Chamber volunteer. “He was a member of our Ambassador Team,” he said. “The Ambassadors are the goodwill committee of the chamber. They attend all regular chamber events, including breakfasts, business after hours, ribbon cuttings, open house celebrations and business anniversary celebrations. Michael also volunteered every year for our annual Mount Dora Bicycle Festival. For four days straight, he showed up at 5 a.m. and spent all day helping. He volunteered for the Taste in Mount Dora/Casino every year. He volunteered at our Christmas events, Light Up Mount Dora and Christmas Walk. His spirit of giving back to the community was special and in this era we live in unusual. ”
Michael also volunteered for many events sponsored by Visit Mount Dora. “Mount Dora is a small town and when we put together events, certain people stand out as being instrumental and consistent in helping out every time,” said special event coordinator Janet Gamache. “Michael was our security guy, our usher, a block captain; wherever we needed him, he would volunteer his time tirelessly and without complaint. Events will never be the same without seeing Michael’s smiling face at the edge of a crowd.”
A devoted boater, Michael always participated in the annual Patriot Cruise and Salute.
“When we began the event in 2012 to honor veterans, he was one of the first boat owners to volunteer,” says Rozann Abato, co-host of the Mount Dora event. “And, every year thereafter, he was in line to help. He took veterans and their guests for a boat ride followed by a patriotic program and picnic lunch. He was attentive to his guests and made sure they felt honored for their service and sacrifice. One veteran he hosted served in WWII and wrote an effusive thank you note about how special ‘Captain Michael’ made him feel. During one of the 4 years, his boat was out of service so he stood in the elevated bucket of the Fire Department’s ladder truck and waved an American flag to welcome veterans back to shore. His patriotism and love of Mount Dora was palpable at every event we hosted. We will miss him this year.”
When Tedder was running for re-election to his at-large seat last fall, Michael provided this statement for the candidate profile that appeared in this publication. It encapsulates everything that has been said about Citizen Michael, and serves as a litmus test for all going forward who would seek a position of power in this town. He wrote,
“I think the residents of Mount Dora are looking for a Council person who will not have a personal agenda but instead will look for what’s best for everyone in the city. Someone who truly wants to serve the city. I think they would like to see someone who is up to speed on the issues, not only in Mount Dora, but in the surrounding area as well because it all affects us. Someone who has the vision to look beyond the next year or two and look into the next 10 to 20 years in planning. Someone who will listen to all and act accordingly. Mount Dora is a great little town and I think everyone would agree that we want to keep it that way. ”
“It’s very hard to find the sort of community spirit that Michael had,” former mayor Cathy Hoescht said. “He was one of Mount Dora’s super volunteers. He did things because it was the right thing to do. There was nothing he thought was too lowly or humble for him to do when help was needed. He was always there to lend a hand.”
Mount Dora will miss this most loyal son.
David Cohea, Writer (firstname.lastname@example.org)