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Former Columbus Mayor Dana "Buck" Rinehart Dead at 68

Columbus residents and leaders have lost a political legend. Former Columbus Mayor Dana “Buck” Rinehart died Wednesday after a battle with cancer. Rinehart is remembered as an “energetic,” “enthusiastic” man who propelled the city into a renaissance. “Buck was about 5’8” and larger than life," said State Auditor Dave Yost. Yost remembers Buck Rinehart like a lot of people do: enthusiastic and passionate. The city’s 50th mayor died surrounded by his family two years after he was diagnosed pancreatic cancer. He was 68 years old. Yost served as Rinehart’s press secretary. Yost said Rinehart helped boost Columbus’ status from “cow town” to major city. “The foundations for what we see around us were really laid in his terms as mayor," Yost said. Rinehart was mayor from 1984 to 1992, and during that time a host of city improvements were initiated or completed including, Interstate 670 from Downtown to Port Columbus, City Center mall and the renaissance of downtown, Short North and Brewery District. Rinehart helped expand the zoo, he brought a short-lived auto race downtown and an exhibit to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the new world. Rinehart recalled his cheerleading during an appearance last year at the Columbus Metropolitan Club. “ Whether it was the zoo, or the race or the 1992 celebration or ameriflora or anything like that," he said. "I was pushing for all of that, all of that. I wanted Columbus to come out of its shell.” Greg Lashutka succeeded Rinehart as mayor but not before serving as his legal counsel. “Columbus was not as high a profile city as it is now," Lushutka said. "Buck tried to add energy and broader vision to the city, and I think in some respects he accomplished that.” Republican Columbus mayoral candidate Terry Boyd held several chartered positions under Rinehart, including one in the Minority and Female Business Development Office. “He was a very practical man who believed in provided basic services," Boyd said. "But at the same time he also believed in innovation.” Boyd, like many others, offered anecdotes that provide a glimpse into Rinehart’s personality. Boyd recalled Rinehart “firing” him several times. “And then, you know, an hour or so later, I’d get a phone call and the mayor was giving me a reprieve. And so he’d like to joke with me like that," Boyd laughed. "And at the same time he was always encouraging and always empowering people around him to get the job done for the citizens of Columbus.” And Auditor Yost said, aside from his father, Rinehart has been the most important mentor in his life. “He used to tell me, ‘David, if you argue with me, I’ll pay you more.’ He told everybody around him that. It became a hallmark of the way I approach my public service 35 years later.” Current Mayor Michael Coleman said Rinehart served as his confidante. Coleman spoke with him just last week and said Rinehart’s interest in the city’s future never waned, even during his sickest days. “In our conversation, he asked a lot of questions and I gave him a lot of information about where we as a city. His passion, his love for this city was incredible," Coleman said. Rinehart is survived by his wife, Brenda, and four children. Flags at city buildings will be flown at half-staff to honor Rinehart.