A legacy of service: Wayne Comstock remembered

Published 9:19 am Thursday, February 13, 2014

If there’s one thing that longtime city council member Charles Burling will remember about his friend Wayne Comstock, it was his selfless commitment to the people of Dowagiac.



Throughout the more than 10 years they worked together on the council, the pair would carpool to meetings outside of town. Their conversations almost always veered toward a single subject: What they could do to improve the city.

“Wayne always put himself second,” Burling said. “He was always willing to give up his time and treasures to the city of Dowagiac.”

Comstock died on Saturday in his home in Dowagiac. He was 62 years old.

To those who knew him, the legacy he leaves is one of service, especially to the city where he spent his entire life.

Comstock served on the Dowagiac city council for 22 years, including a long stint as Mayor Pro-Tem. He stepped down from his seat in October of 2009 as his health started to decline.

“I loved working with Wayne,” said Mayor Don Lyons. “He was a fine gentleman, who always kept Dowagiac in his heart.”

Lyons and the rest of the city council paid tribute to their fellow public servant during their meeting Monday, honoring his memory with a moment of silence at the start of the evening.

“Two years ago, I said I had big shoes to fill and I’m still having trouble filling them,” said James Dodd, who was appointed the council shortly before Comstock’s departure. ”He did a good job for the city and he won’t be forgotten.”

Council member Burling also shared his memories of Comstock during the meeting. The two knew each other since childhood, developing a strong friendship over the years, both inside and outside the council chambers.

“He was a fun guy to play golf with, and he always had a good story to tell,” Burling said.

In addition to their work with the council, the two also collaborated frequently together with projects for Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital, where Burling serves as chairman. Comstock, the former president of the Borgess-Lee Hospital Foundation, worked with Burling on a number of community outreach efforts over the years.

“He wasn’t an outwardly open person, but he wore his heart on his sleeve,” Burling said. “He had a compassion for his fellow man that I strive to reach.”

Comstock was also a longtime member of the Dowagiac Elks club, where he served for many years as an officer.

“He was well regarded among the members,” said longtime Elks Club member Dave Scott. “He still participated whenever he could, however he was capable of doing so.”

Comstock will not only be remembered for things he did for his community, but for the impact he made in the lives of those who knew him best.

“I thought the world of him,” Burling said. “He was a good friend, and I’ll miss his stories, his smile and his laughter.”