County Board of Supervisors Chairman and Charleston Town Supervisor Shayne Walters died Monday morning after a monthslong struggle with cancer.
“It was very rapid,” said his mother, Jean Walters, “No one expected it. We all thought he was doing so well.”
Walters was diagnosed with colon cancer in January, and had been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments in the months since.
Jean Walters said the radiation helped, giving the family hope, but the chemotherapy overcame his weakened system.
An ambulance took him to Basset Medical Center in Cooperstown Sunday night. “We were there all night,” she said, recounting how the doctors tried to save him as his situation worsened in the morning.
“It took him in a few hours,” she said.
Walters, 49, leaves behind his wife, Laurie, and two children.
Town of Root Supervisor and county board Vice Chairman John Thayer will temporarily step into Walters’ seat. In the coming weeks the board will have to officially appoint another chairman, but Thayer said Walters, who was first elected in 2003, is irreplaceable.
“He always tried to take care of the little guy,” he said. “You go back and look at what he did for his town after the floods last year. No one could have done what he did.”
Burtonsville was one of the hardest-hit villages in Montgomery County during tropical storms Irene and Lee. Houses along the creek were damaged and roads were washed away. In the aftermath, Walters worked tirelessly for the displaced families, Thayer said.
Thayer said it was this commitment to the flood victims that led the board to appoint him chairman the first of this year.
On his own time, Walters ran a backwoods logging company, hauling lumber from the deep forest with draft horses.
“Shayne was a straight shooter,” said Kevin Lane, who did business with Walters.
As owner of Carolina Clubs, a local baseball bat manufacturer, Lane bought some of Walters’ best ash and maple logs. In fact, it was Walters that persuaded Lane to move his business from West Palm Beach, Fla., to Charleston four years ago, he said.
“He was a good guy,” Lane said. “He had a good family.”
It is not yet clear what will happen to Walters’ Charleston town supervisor seat.