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Notable London, Ont. lawyer, politician Russ Monteith dies

Russell Monteith was described by former colleagues as a respected authority with a calming presence.
Russell Monteith was described by former colleagues as a respected authority with a calming presence. via Monteith Lawyers

A lawyer, former city councillor, and all-around prominent Londoner has died.

A long-time politician, Russ Monteith served three terms on council’s board of control — a now-defunct group whose duties covered all of London — as well as a stint as interim Ward 5 councillor in 2014.

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Mayor Ed Holder tweeted late Monday morning that he was sad to learn of Monteith’s passing, describing him as an “old friend” and an “honourable gentleman” who will be missed.

Erin Rankin Nash managed Monteith’s political campaigns and described him as a person who believed in public service.

“He liked to work together with others to achieve goals and looked for consensus. He was a very positive person,” she told Global News Radio 980 CFPL.

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“Most importantly, he was a true gentleman and treated people with respect.”

Cheryl Miller, who was the councillor for Ward 5 when Monteith was a controller, described him as the keeper of the herd amid a rambunctious council.

“We came in after some horrible times and wanted to make London so much better. I always used the analogy, like popcorn in a frying pan and Russ had the ability to put the lid on it,” she said.

“Russ was always calm, would always make time for you to meet with him in his office and sort of go through what your idea was. It was kind of like a calming space because you could go in like a firecracker and walk out like a kitten. Russ was very good at doing that.”

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Roger Caranci was the councillor for Ward 4 when Monteith was a controller. He described Monteith as a respected authority around the horseshoe.

He said Monteith made sure proper decorum was adhered to in the council chamber. “If there was any issue, he would take you aside and let you know. That was his role and he took it and dealt with it very well, I think.”

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Monteith returned to council years later in 2014 to serve as the interim Ward 5 councillor when that ward’s elected councillor, Joni Baechler, was appointed mayor following Joe Fontana’s resignation as mayor over fraud-related convictions dating back to his time as a federal Liberal cabinet minister.

Outside of municipal politics, Monteith ran the law firm Monteith Lawyers on Queens Avenue and was a past president of the Middlesex Law Association.

He also spent time with the Pillar Non-Profit Network and was once the president of the local Children’s Aid Society.

Monteith died Sunday night at the age of 85, according to the London Free Press.

Funeral arrangements were not yet available as of publication time.

— with files from Global News Radio 980 CFPL’s Andrew Graham.