Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) When Edward Arrington became Owego's first African-American mayor, he said the election was never about race.
"I don't consider myself a trailblazer," Arrington said during an interview in February 2011. "I just consider myself a citizen of Owego trying to do a job."
His friends and colleagues say Arrington's race was never an issue.
Robert Williams, Owego's first African-American police chief, said voters elected him because of his care for his community.
"He was concerned about the individual residents," Williams said. "If they had an issue or concern, no matter how minor or trivial it seemed to anyone else, it was important to Ed."
Mayor Kevin Millar said Arrington was key in building Owego's famous river walk.
"He was unswerving and passionate Ed was thinking about things to do to improve the village almost all the time," Millar said.
Arrington's commitment didn't end in the village hall.
He spent years working as an ambulance driver for the Owego Emergency Squad, including while serving as mayor.
Squad member and village trustee Earl Hartman said Arrington was always there when needed.
"He responded to all the calls that were in his shift and many times calls that were not in his shift," Hartman said.
He described the former mayor as the perfect public servant.
"Whether it's the politics or working with the emergency squad," Hartman said, "We take the roles to serve people. And that's what Ed did."
His record of service is how Arrington told Action News in 2011 he wanted to be remembered.
"Someone that tried to make a difference," Arrington said, "Somebody that tried to make the community better."
Ed Arrington was 70 years old.
He is survived by his wife and four children.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.