SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Mayor Ken McClure, on behalf of himself and the Springfield City Council, expressed his condolences for the passing of former City Councilman Denny Whayne.

“It is a sad night,” McClure said. “Springfield has lost an icon who worked tirelessly to bring communities of people together.”

Whayne was the first African American elected to City Council since it was formed in 1953 and served as the Zone 1 representative for two consecutive four-year terms. He was first elected in 2001 and served until 2009. Whayne was a member of the Finance, Plans and Policies, Administration, and Public Involvement committees.

Whayne, who grew up in Springfield, joined the NAACP at 11 and later participated in the Freedom Rides of 1961. He continued his civil rights work in Tulsa during the 1960s when racial tensions were high. He returned to Springfield in 1972 and served as president of the Springfield chapter of the NAACP from 1980 to 1988.

Back in 2018 Springfield City Council unanimously passed a resolution honoring the former councilman for his service and his decades-long commitment to justice and equal rights. The Busch Municipal Building’s fourth-floor conference room was named at the time as the “Councilman Denny Whayne Conference Room.”

When interviewed in 2018, Whayne said, “Being on City Council was one of the best experiences of my entire life. My mindset on the council was to try to move the city of Springfield forward.”