Estero fire commissioner Sam Levy dies

Estero fire commissioner Sam Levy died earlier today, creating the second recent vacancy on the five-person board.

Those who knew Levy, 72, said the death would be felt by all Estero.

"It's a real loss for his family and also for the community, because he was so involved in the community," said Don Eslick, chairman of the Estero Council of Community Leaders. Levy served as one of three vice chairmen on the council.

His death followed recent heart problems, Eslick said.

Levy was elected to the Estero Fire Rescue commission in 2004 and served as its vice chairman. He excelled in issues related to human resources, a reflection of his long business career, said district spokeswoman Susan Lindenmuth.

Levy worked as a manager of employee benefits and owned a consulting company that focused on health care, according to his biography on the South Lee County Hospital Committee Web site.

"When we sit down and talk about things for the department - health insurance, union contracts - he was really our go-to person because of his years of experience," Lindenmuth said.

"He is really going to be missed, by us especially," she said.

Commissioners will appoint someone to hold his seat temporarily. The position comes up for election in November, Lindenmuth said.

Earlier this year, Sean James was appointed to replace outgoing commissioner Barbara Aikens, who vacated her seat due to a family move outside the state. James' seat will also come up for election in November.

Commissioners will likely use the same pool of applicants in Aikens' seat to appoint a replacement for Levy, Lindenmuth said.

Levy's passion for health-care issues extended through his career and into retirement, Eslick said. He volunteered at the Bonita Community Health Center, Eslick said, and he was active in Estero's recently formed South Lee County Hospital Committee.

"Sam was basically the one who pulled it together and kept it going," Eslick said of the committee. "So throughout his life he has always been involved in his community and especially with health care. He was very passionate."

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