August “Augie” Tindell, who during his 20 years as a member of the Columbus City Council doggedly defended his home district of East Columbus, died early Thursday at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Franklin. He was 72.
His was the second death of a former member of the council in less than a week. Ted Ogle, a 16-year member, died Sunday. Tindell was a lifelong Democrat, and Ogle a lifelong Republican.
“In one week, we’ve lost two community leaders on completely opposite sides of the political spectrum,” said former Columbus resident John Brown of Charlotte, N.C., who served on the council with both men. “But here’s what strikes me: Ted and Augie always did what was best for the people and moved ahead. It shows what is so wrong with Washington, D.C., and what is so very right for our community. Augie represented his district and all people in Columbus in the finest possible manner. We couldn’t have asked for a finer representative.”
Tindell announced his retirement from public life in late 2006 when he told supporters that he would step down from the City Council at the end of his fifth term in 2007.
Although he voted on a number of measures that affected the entire city, the veteran councilman had as his first priority the people of the District 1 in East Columbus.
“I can really say with all sincerity that I don’t know when we’ll ever find another man in that district who cared so much,” said former Mayor Fred Armstrong, who, before he began a 16-year run as mayor in 1996, sat alongside Tindell on the council.
“Augie was a down-to-earth guy who really, really took care of his district. I think that very few people in East Columbus disliked Augie because they knew he was always looking out after their interests.”
Tindell’s popularity in his district was unquestioned.
“He was the ideal advocate for the people he represented,” former council member George Dutro said. “He was a plain-spoken guy, and you never had to wonder what he was really thinking.”
His fierce representation of his district sometimes brought him into conflict with mayors and fellow members of the council.
In his first year in office, he took issue with the initial plans by the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department to expand an interconnected system of hiking, biking and jogging trails for the city.
While supportive of the overall project, he criticized developers for leaving the east side out of the initial plan, saying, “Now you know why people in East Columbus raise so much hell,” he said at the time. “It’s because nothing ever gets done over there.”
Later planners included links with Clifty Park in the People Trails project.
Constituent service was a primary mission for the working man who spent much of his adult life at the Reliance Electric Reeves plant on Seventh Street.
“Augie held coffee meetings with East Columbus residents every Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Eastside Community Center,” remembered Priscilla Scalf, who replaced Tindell on the City Council in 2008. “He always wanted to be there for them. ... People in the district called him the mayor of East Columbus.”
One of his proudest achievements was an effort to get the city to rigidly enforce an ordinance about abandoned vehicles. The problem was especially acute in East Columbus, and his pressure on city officials to do something about it has been credited for the improved appearances in the area.
There were instances when Tindell worked behind the scenes to improve his neighborhood. Scalf and former Columbus Mayor Nancy Ann Brown both recalled his efforts in helping to establish and keep alive the Eastside Community Center.
“Augie contributed a lot to the community that most people never knew about,” said Brown, whose time as mayor ended before Tindell was elected to the City Council. “He put a lot of love and effort into that community (and) Eastside Community Center. He certainly was a major asset for it.”
Scalf, who became director of the center in 1998, said that Tindell worked especially hard in keeping the center open in the face of several adversities.
“He believed it was so important to the residents of East Columbus,” she said.
Although Tindell could be blunt in making his points during heated discussions, his was often the stabilizing voice of reason.
“Augie had a gentle way of getting his point across,” said Hutch Schumaker, whose father Ab had served alongside Tindell on the council for several years. “He always did it in a nonthreatening and nonconfrontational way. He truly believed you got more done by being a nice guy than a tough guy. He was a nice guy.”
Funeral arrangements are pending at Myers-Reed Chapel, 3729 25th St.