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San Juan Councilman Gelff Dies at Home

Times Staff Writer

A San Juan Capistrano city councilman was found dead in his bed Tuesday by sheriff’s deputies after colleagues became concerned when he missed a council meeting.

John Steven Gelff, 54, appeared to have died of natural causes, according to a coroner’s spokesman. “We’ll do an autopsy [Wednesday],” said Joseph Luckey, supervising deputy coroner for Orange County.

Contacted about 4:45 p.m. by council members worried about Gelff’s absence from a meeting, deputies checked his home in the 3100 block of Avenida Madrid, Lt. Hayward Miller said.

“The officers found him in his bed, nonresponsive,” Miller said.

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According to his resume on the city’s website, Gelff -- who served as mayor in 2003 -- was chairman of the city’s redevelopment agency, a lobbyist, strategic planner and educator.

Known for his outspoken support for preserving the heritage and open space of areas such as Rancho Mission Viejo in south Orange County, he was often on the losing side in council votes that approved major developments.


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