The Spencer community was taken aback Wednesday by the announcement that city councilman Frank Petska had died.
An official cause of death had not yet been made clear as of Thursday. He was 78.
The City of Spencer announced Petska’s death in a Facebook post Wednesday evening, asking the community to keep his family in their thoughts.
“Collectively, I think we’re all pretty shocked by it,” Spencer City Manager Amanda Mack said Thursday. “It was definitely pretty unexpected. I will personally miss Frank’s willingness to think big and ask big questions and his willingness to learn from others. He attended a lot of meetings with other council members from across the state and really wanted to learn from them on what they were doing.”
Mack said that Petska was always supportive of her as city manager. Her first day on the job was in January of this year.
“He was really helpful in helping me transition into this role in this community,” Mack said. “I’m very appreciative of that.”
Petska represented Ward 1 on the city council. He was elected in 2013 appointed in 2014. His current term ran until 2021.
Fellow city council member George Moriarty, an at-large councilman, shared how much Petska is going to be missed.
“Frank was a very thoughtful deep thinker,” Moriarty said. “He thought things through very seriously and he took the job very seriously. I was always very impressed with him on that. We’re going to miss him.”
Petska worked in Storm Lake. Moriarty said Petska’s experience in that community created an interest in diversity that he brought to his role as a city leader.
“He wanted the city to come up with some diversified type of celebrations and things like that,” Moriarty said. “He was working hard on that. We haven’t progressed very far on that just yet, but he was getting ideas. I would say that was a passion of his, that we accepted the new people who come to our area and that we would welcome them and be warm toward them. He was serious about that.”
Mack said Petska will be hard to replace.
“At the end of the day, he was really just a kind man who cared about Spencer, who cared about the people that he worked with and (was) just very genuine,” she said.
Funeral services for Petska are pending at Warner Funeral Home in Spencer.