Thomas “Tony” Soetaert, the longest-tenured mayor in Shawnee history, passed away Friday at the age of 80.
Soetaert, a lifelong resident of Shawnee, served more than 30 years as mayor, councilman and as a member of the board of zoning appeals.
Soetaert was elected to the city council in 1974 prior to being elected mayor in 1977. He was the longest-serving mayor in city history.
Current Mayor Michelle Distler said the Shawnee community benefited as a whole from Soetaert’s vision and love of the city.
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“He was a great ambassador for our community, and he worked tirelessly on behalf of Shawnee’s growth and progress,” Distler said in a statement. “Without his leadership, I doubt Shawnee would be the city of more than 60,000 residents spread across 42 square miles that we see today.”
Soetaert is survived by his wife, Joyce, and his three children, Julie King, Tom Soetaert and Amy Rainey, and a number of grandchildren.
“We offer our sincere condolences to Tony’s family,” Distler said.
Visitation will be from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Monday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 11311 Johnson Drive. A funeral mass will follow at 11 a.m. at the church. Burial will be at St. Joseph Cemetery in Shawnee.