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Officials, family recall mayor who 'absolutely loved' Chambersburg

May 23, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - John A. Redding Jr.'s death Monday afternoon not only left a void in the hearts of family and friends, but also on the board of elected officials that runs the Borough of Chambersburg.

Redding, who was elected mayor in 2005, had two years remaining in his term. Candidates to finish it will appear on ballots in November's election, following nominations by each political party.

In the interim, Borough Council President William McLaughlin has assumed the duties of mayor.

"I intend to delegate my authority over the police department to the borough manager," McLaughlin said.

Redding's goals for the police department were to increase the number of officers and adjust schedules to get more of them on the streets, according to Police Chief Michael T. DeFrank.

Three additional officers were approved this year, and DeFrank plans to take a request for more to the borough council.

"Unfortunately, John won't be standing at my side this budget cycle to do that," DeFrank said.

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DeFrank said his colleague and friend "just had a way of bringing people together for a common goal."

"He was able to be an effective communicator and conciliator," DeFrank said. "We talked every day, visited every day, and when we were done with the police business, we'd laugh every day."

In his personal life, Redding was a good, tough, fair father; devout Catholic; avid Penn State University football fan; and beloved grandfather to four, according to his son, Patrick Redding.

Patrick Redding occasionally asked his father, who also was a councilman for 12 years, why he continued to serve in public posts and on various boards.

"It was his absolute love for people. He absolutely loved this community," Patrick Redding said. "His proudest moment was when he became mayor."

The mayor's son believes his father's greatest legacy will be his treatment of and respect for other people.

"He was a healer. He used measured patience and mediation to make a better (Chambersburg)," Patrick Redding said.

Redding, 76, underwent heart bypass surgery May 14. He was faring well until early Saturday, when complications caused his health to deteriorate quickly.

He died around 3:30 p.m. Monday at Harrisburg (Pa.) Hospital.

His family is employing a principle learned from the Irish on fondly remembered trips to Dublin and its countryside.

"You mourn the loss, but sometimes it's more important to celebrate the life," Patrick Redding said.

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