Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Charlie Duffy Dies

Former supervisor Charley Duffy dies

One of the last of a kind left us yesterday, as former Johnson County Supervisor Charley Duffy of Solon passed away at age 83.

I hadn't seen Charley in a year or two; his health had been declining and his visits to the county building were becoming less frequent. But I did have the pleasure, and it was a pleasure, of working with him for several years.

Charley was a man of the farm, the kind of old-school rural supervisor that used to dominate county government. That meant we didn't always agree on any given zoning issue or primary election. But Charley was a proud Democrat and a strong supporter of Bob Dvorsky, Dave Nagle and Tom Harkin.

Charley's wife Joyce worked on the absentee ballot board for many years and Charlie would come into the office every election night to pick her up. He'd usually want to shoot the breeze, speculate on the outcome, and tell a few stories.

Hard to believe now but Charley actually lost his first run for the board, in 1986. He was the head of Johnson County Farm Bureau at the time, and ran a very close third out of five for two seats, finishing behind two other county government legends, Bob Burns and Harold Donnelly.

But Duffy led the field in his second try in 1988 and served three terms, retiring in 2000. In 1992 and 1996 he trailed a bit in the primary but was first in the general. The Duffy Number is still a good diagnostic; compare Charley's results by precinct to an urban liberal like Joe Bolkcom, and you get a good measurement of the farm vote.

Visitation is Thursday from 3 to 7 at Lensing's; services are Friday at his beloved St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church. Thoughts and prayers to Joyce and their children.

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