By JAIME STUDD
Recorder News Staff
Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman and Charleston Town Supervisor Shayne Walters passed away Monday morning following a nine-month battle with cancer.
Though Walters had been battling colon cancer since January, his mother, Jean Walters, said his death came as a shock to family and friends who, until very recently, remained hopeful for a recovery.
"It was a very sudden loss and completely unexpected to anyone, including his doctors," Jean Walters said.
Jean Walters said radiation and chemotherapy treatments had appeared to be effective in fighting the cancer until as recently as last week, when Shayne Walters appeared to take a turn for the worse.
He was rushed to Cobleskill Regional Hospital late Sunday afternoon, then immediately transported to Cooperstown Medical Center, where he had been receiving treatment for his cancer.
"We were told to stay here and wait for a call," Jean Walters said. "They called after three this morning and said: 'It's life or death, come here immediately.'
"He looked pretty good and was responsive when we got there and, bit by bit, he was unable to respond to the medication they were giving him," she added.
He died at approximately 11:23 a.m., she said.
According to Jean Walters, doctors believe Shayne Walters died from an infection in his stomach believed to be caused by the most recent round of chemotherapy treatments.
"I'm still not actually able to comprehend that he's gone," Jean Walters said. "I'm just kind of sitting here trying to comprehend everything and not doing well.
"He was such a strong believer in honesty and truth and he was a fighter for the underdog all the time," Jean Walters added. "He was also a very strong Christian. He had it all, except, somehow, not the health. I guess God wanted him and so he took him."
As word of Shayne Walters' death spread, his fellow Montgomery County supervisors struggled to comprehend the loss and paid tribute to their friend.
"Obviously, it's a great loss. There's no question there," said Root Town Supervisor John Thayer. "Shayne championed the small guy. He helped a lot of people."
In a statement released late Monday night, Amsterdam Second Ward Supervisor Jeff Stark also paid tribute to Walters.
"I'm deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Shayne. His knowledge of county government, his steady leadership and his desire to do what was right will be sorely missed," Stark wrote. "His legacy will be defined by his hard work and advocacy for his town after last year's devastating floods."
As vice-chairman of the board of supervisors, Thayer said he has the authority to sign necessary documents and make decisions in Walters' absence until a new chairman can be appointed.
Thayer said he has no intention of calling the special meeting required to appoint a new chair until after funeral services for Walters are held, but he estimated that such a meeting would likely take place next week.
Jean Walters said funeral and memorial service arrangements have not yet been finalized, but she hoped to see memorials take place in both Montgomery and Schoharie counties, where she said Shayne Walters had many friends.
"I'm hoping everyone will have the opportunity to pay their respects," Jean Walters said.
Shayne Walters was first elected Charleston Town Supervisor in 2004.
In addition to his mother, Walters leaves behind his wife, Laurie, and two children, John and Frankie, as well has his brother, Michael.
Walters was 49 years old.