Longtime Councilwoman Joyce Hanks died Nov. 27 from complications resulting from a heart attack. She was 72.
Hanks represented the city`s 1st Ward for the last 28 years and was halfway through her current four-year term. She was appointed to the seat in 1979 – just two years after moving to the city – and had won every election since.
City Council must select a replacement within 60 days after officially declaring the seat vacant, which it is expected to do at its Dec. 27 meeting, Mayor John Piskura said. Piskura will choose a replacement if Council fails to do so.
Filling Hanks` shoes will be a tough task for whoever is chosen.
“She was an institution in Sheffield Lake,” Piskura said. “She was a friend to all of us and was so well-loved in the community.”
Hanks was known as the driving force behind several charitable activities. Several of those were in tandem with the Community Civic Council, which she also helped by organizing its Community Days fundraising carnival as well as the annual Community Days festival every year.
She also was instrumental in assisting with the Meals on Wheels program and known as a volunteer for the county Office on Aging, as well as for helping with food drives during the holidays.
“I`m a lifelong resident of Sheffield Lake, and I can`t remember a time when I didn`t know her,” said city Law Director David Graves. “She is an iconic figure in Sheffield Lake. She`s irreplaceable. Everything she did for the elderly and the needy – she was just tremendous.”
Hanks is survived by a daughter, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild, as well as brothers and sisters.
Her daughter, Donna Szili, said her mother lived to help people.
“Mom was always there when you needed her,” Szili said. “She was always a very loving, caring person who would go without to make sure others had. I remember she would pay off people`s electricity bill or water bill just to help out.”
Most of all, Hanks loved representing the 1st Ward, Szili said.
“Those were her people, that`s what she always said,” Szili said. “She wanted to do whatever she could for them.”