Mike Haydon, Gov. Steve Beshear’s chief of staff since 2010 and a former mayor of Springfield, died Sunday. He was 62.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Haydon suffered a heart attack.
In a statement, Beshear said he and first lady Jane Beshear were “shocked and devastated” by Haydon’s sudden passing.
“Mike’s deep experience in state and local government and his vast knowledge of the issues that really matter to the people of this state made him an invaluable leader in our administration and a strong advocate for local governments,” Gov. Steve Beshear said.
“Jane and I will always be grateful for his dedication, counsel, knowledge and sense of humor. We have not only lost a man who dedicated his life to improving the future for Kentuckians; we have also lost one of our best friends.”
Haydon leaves a wife, Lisa, and three children, Blair, Kate and Ben.
Haydon spent more than 30 years in state and local government. Aside from serving as Beshear’s chief of staff and mayor of Springfield, Haydon has been Beshear’s legislative director, House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins’ chief of staff, deputy secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet under Gov. Paul Patton and property valuation administrator in Washington County.
News of Haydon’s death resonated across state government.
Auditor Adam Edelen, whom Haydon succeeded as Beshear’s chief of staff, said he will always remember Haydon’s dedication to his family and public service.
“Being chief of staff is an all-consuming job, and it can take an enormous toll on your family and your health,” Edelen said today. “Mike was just so committed and dedicated to Lisa, his wife, and … his kids.
“He was everything to Kate, Ben and Blair.”
Beshear has “an extraordinarily difficult task” in naming Haydon’s replacement, Edelen said.
“He was the obvious choice to take over when I left, and he did the job very well,” Edelen said. “Mike had this irrepressible spirit. He was fun to be around, he was likable and intense, and did what I believe is the most difficult job in state government really well.”
House Speaker Greg Stumbo called Haydon a “true public servant.”
“He had a great understanding of the issues both locally and at the state level, and that experience helped him and those he worked with immensely,” he said in a statement.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Robert Stivers told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Haydon was respected for understanding legislators’ positions.
“We were always very frank with each other, but we knew where to draw the lines,” Stivers said. “… He was always able to set aside the political aspects and the differences, and able to have a good discussion about basketball.”
Attorney General Jack Conway said he knew Haydon for more than 15 years and was “shocked” at news of his passing.
“Mike Haydon was a savvy, intelligent professional who served at many levels of government, and the people of the Commonwealth benefited greatly from his dedication,” Conway said in a statement.
Services for Haydon have not been announced.