Mayor leads meeting after dad's death

Despite receiving news earlier in the day that his father had died, Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer attended Tuesday's City Council meeting.

He didn't mention his loss from the dais.

"Just, you know, you go to the meeting because that's what my dad would've done," he said Wednesday. "Nothing I could do from here. You've just got to take care of what you got to take care of."

James Joseph Righeimer died Tuesday morning, following diabetes complications. He was 80. He lived at a nursing home in Illinois.

In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, Righeimer wrote that he got a call from one of his three sisters saying their father had died.

In a 2009 column for the Daily Pilot, Righeimer described his father as a scrappy child of the Great Depression who would grow up to become a sports coach and teacher.

"My dad was always working," he wrote. "I am sure a lot of that came from the little boy in Chicago who was always afraid there would be no money to put food on the table."

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger said he'd met "Big Jim" several times.

"He was a wonderful guy," he said. "Bigger than life."

Righeimer wrote that his father taught him to appreciate his own children.

"His lottery tickets were his kids, and every one turned out to be a winning ticket," he wrote. "He told me to take a good look at my girls. 'Those are your lottery tickets, Jimmy,' he said."

Righeimer said he plans to leave for Illinois Thursday and return Sunday.

Asked if he had anything to add, Righeimer's voice faltered with emotion he appeared to have kept to himself Tuesday evening.

"He was just a fine American that raised five kids he could be proud of," he said.

Twitter: @jillcowan

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