CLARKS GREEN, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A northeastern Pennsylvania community is in mourning this weekend. It lost its long-time public servant and mayor for the past two decades. As Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, someone who served the community alongside him speaks of the legacy left behind by the man affectionately called “Mayor Bill”.
“The community is saddened by the loss. He was a wonderful man,” said Clarks Green Borough Council Vice President Keith Williams. With black bunting draped from the borough building and the American flag flown at half staff, nearly 1,500 Clarks Green residents are dealing with grief. Mayor Bill Thorburn died suddenly on Friday of a heart attack just a few weeks after being sworn-in to a sixth term.
“He’s performed so many good deeds and tasks,” said Mr. Williams who shared memories of the man he considered much more than an elected official. “He was a great neighbor, a great guy. He would do anything for anybody.”
Case in point is what Mayor Bill did for Mr. Williams who gets around in a motorized wheelchair. “He was always concerned about me and my welfare coming back from council meetings after dark.”
Mayor Bill developed and installed a battery-operated light system for the power chair. “I could flip a switch and I would have lights on my chair and be able to see where I was going and to get home safely.”
Mr. Thorburn took safety seriously. As Clarks Green’s emergency system contact, he was responsible for making sure the borough was ready to handle any situation. Mr. Williams said, “He was just always there to help in whatever capacity was needed.”
Calling Mr. Thorburn a knowledgeable, humble, and down to earth man, Mr. Williams said the mayor took pride in his borough from overseeing its centennial celebration in 2014 to building a pocket library with his own hands last summer across the street from the borough building. Mr. Williams speaks for many when he says “Mayor Bill” is irreplaceable. “There was not a pretentious bone in his body… a true gentleman and a man of the people.”
Besides 20 years as mayor, Bill Thorburn previously served eight years on Clarks Green Borough Council which now must hold an emergency session to appoint an acting mayor.