WILTON — Described as a passionate, enthusiastic, generous man, Wilton’s Wastewater Treatment and Water superintendent will be missed.

Russell Mathers II, 58, died Friday at the Hospice House in Auburn where he’d been a patient less than a week, following a long illness.

He continued as superintendent until his death, Wilton Town Manager Rhonda Irish said. He had been on medical leave from the position since November.

“He was extremely loyal to the town and the profession. He was very passionate about the work,” she said.

Just recently Mathers had told her, “it’s unfortunate young people aren’t looking to get into that line of work. It’s a good career.”

Mathers began his career in 1987 when he was hired as a plant operator before moving up to superintendent, co-worker Clayton Putnam said.

Along with Putnam who was hired as a mechanic in 1988, Mathers and his crew have worked to keep costs down for the town and customers.

“They did a lot of work in-house. He wouldn’t have engineers come in and do the work if it was anything they could do. They did their own repairs and even created their own parts (many are now outdated) creating a good solid working relationship,” Irish said.

Their efforts forestalled rate increases for more than 20 years, and they received numerous awards for their innovative style that kept an outdated plant running way beyond its life expectancy.

Mathers felt strongly for residents and knew rate increases were difficult for them. He just wouldn’t have that, she said.

“It was a good relationship. We’d bounce ideas off each other,” Putnam said. “You couldn’t ask for a better man to have as a friend and as a boss.”

Four employees in the two departments worked individually but collectively. They gathered together every morning for breakfast, sharing not only work but the newspaper and many laughs, he said.

“Mathers had a wonderful sense of humor and an outgoing personality. He wasn’t boring,” Putnam added.

“Mathers was a man who improved with age,” Peter Nielsen, former Wilton town manager and current Oakland manager said Tuesday. “He has a remarkable list of accomplishments but was also a very generous, very passionate and enthusiastic man. He had the ability to keep things running with Yankee ingenuity. He was a capable innovator and staunch advocate for the department.”

Along with a creative work effort, Mathers had a musical and artistic side.

He was quite an artist, drawing caricatures, using pastel pencils or painting with watercolors, Putnam said.

“He’d be talking on the phone and doodling. There are reminders left throughout the plant,” he added.

Mathers was an accomplished musician playing guitar in local bands and with his wife, Jody. They cut a couple CDs and have several tunes out on YouTube. He wrote music and lyrics.

He also held a black belt in karate.

Along with his humor, personality and creativity, Mathers was remembered as an intelligent and well-read man. He read a variety including Roman history and about different religions. He loved political satire and politics, Putnam said.

“He was extremely intelligent and a nice guy. No one ever spoke ill of him,” said Board of Selectmen Chair Terry Brann. “He did everything right for the town and to keep costs down. Even at the end, he was so concerned he wasn’t doing his job but he did over and beyond what could be expected.”

Along with his wife, Mathers leaves a young son, Regan, and a young stepson, Logan Cook, all of Carthage and a daughter, Emmah, of Arkansas. Private family services are planned at a future date, Putnam said.

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