Louis Manuel Jr., former Ak-Chin Indian Community chairman and councilmember, passed away.

Louis J. Manuel Jr., former chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community, has died, according to family members.

Manuel, 57, was at the forefront of Ak-Chin’s economic development as council chairman and the face of many groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings for major projects. Skilled in many areas and known widely, he had worked at a range of occupations from heavy equipment operator to hotel manager. As an elected official, he worked to improve the status and place of the Ak-Chin Community.

“We want to be able to grow and strengthen, and then grow others, too,” Manuel said in 2015, adding that community members were stewards of the land.

Mayor Christian Price said Manuel “was instrumental in helping with our overpass and the gift money $7.4 million that came from Ak-Chin to Copper Sky. He was instrumental in teaching me so much and I considered him a dear friend and I respected him so very much. He will be dearly missed.”

The Ak-Chin Community is lowering flags to half-staff out of respect for his leadership and service. A cause of death has not been officially announced.

He was married to Dr. Yolanda Rodriguez, who posted in social media: “I cannot expect that anyone would have less than kind words as there was no greater man in the world.”

His sister Erica Manuel also posted in social media: “He was a great man, husband, father, leader and brother . . . I am so emotionally numb right now. Please keep us in your prayers.”

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