City Manager Ken Frank sat on the City Council dais for the last time Tuesday.
"Thank God," he said.
The intensely private Frank was publically lauded by members of the council and the public for his skills and his devotion to the city's welfare and wellbeing.
"I want to personally thank Ken for his service to Laguna Beach," Mayor Elizabeth Pearson said. "He has always had our backs and he always put the community before himself."
Former Councilman Paul Freeman said Frank served the community in stellar fashion.
"We were lucky to have Ken Frank," Freeman said. "We haven't always agreed, but he is the best politician this city has ever had."
When the county went bankrupt, Orange County city managers appointed Frank to work with the state, a measure of their regard for his skills, said Freeman, who wore a hat to the meeting just so he could tip it to Frank.
Everyone has heard of Frank's financial wizardry, but Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. President Chris Quilter honored him for his hands-on approach to the job.
Quilter said that one year, pylons for a paving project were blocking parking for a "Lagunatics" performance, which had everyone in a tizzy, but Frank fixed the problem.
"There he was out on the street, moving stuff around," Quilter recalled.
Frank's home was among the 366 Laguna Beach homes that burned down in the 1993. But who knew? He was at City Hall working night and day to organize aid for the victims.
Georgia Andersen, said her late husband, Claes Andersen, kept running into Frank, both homeless and wearing the same outfits — anyone who lost their home also lost their wardrobe.
"I served on the council for eight years," Kathleen Blackburn said. "[Ken] always made us look good. Tonight is the end of an era and it makes me sad."
City Atty. Philip Kohn said he often referred to Frank as Special Assistant to the City Attorney.
"At all times, Ken's sage advice and sensitivity to the council was a tremendous help to our office," Kohn said.
"I am going to miss that advice. A lot of litigation would not have been as successful without Ken's participation."
Kohn said Frank has an amazing talent to bring people of opposing views together.
"I went with Ken to a dedication of 20,000 acres of open space," Mayor Pro Tem Jane Egly said. "It was symbolic. No one is better than Ken at acquiring open space for Laguna."
Mayor Toni Iseman asked Frank to recite the numbers: How much open space had the city acquired and how much did it cost during his 31 years on the job?
Frank said acquisitions began before he came to Laguna, but now total 3,000 acres, some 2,000 from the Irvine Co.
"The city has spent close to $50 million in local money, most of it for Laguna Laurel," Frank said. "That is a major achievement for a small city.
"I have enjoyed the job. One of the things I enjoyed most was they let me spend about a billion and half dollars. So thank you."
City Councilman Kelly Boyd said since he was on the council that hired Frank, it was appropriate that he is again on the council at the end Frank's career.
"I am looking forward to getting him on the [golf] course and taking all his money," Boyd said.
Representatives of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center also paid their respects to Frank.
"We only have two animals right now — which is the way it is supposed to be — but in the spring, we will have a lot of [rescues] and one of the male pups will be named Ken Frank," center board member Mary Ferguson said.
When the pup is healthy, Frank will be called to release it back into the ocean.
The center will also include a brick engraved with Frank's name to be included in the pathway at the center.
"I want to make it perfectly clear that I was not the one who suggested neutering the sea lions," Frank said, referring to a comment made more than once by Iseman.
About Frank, Iseman said: "You have been herding cats. But you kept most of us happy, most of the time."