Editorial | Community leader

Editorial | Community leader

Few people throw themselves into the life of a community the way Tom Berns did.

With the death of former state Rep. Tom Berns on Monday, Champaign County lost one of its leading citizens.

Noted for his genuine personal warmth, terrific sense of humor and a professionalism few could match, Mr. Berns was a civil engineer who considered his work to be not just engineering water run-off but community improvement as well.

How else could one explain Mr. Berns' devotion to all manner of activities aimed at making life better for the people of Champaign County and beyond?

Most striking, of course, was a personality that was so outgoing that he made most extroverts seem reserved by comparison.

Put simply, Mr. Berns was the kind of guy who threw himself into causes and, in the process, had fun and made sure others had fun, too.

At the same time, however, he was an effective businessman, partnering with Ed Clancy to build one of the most successful engineering firms in East Central Illinois from the ground up.

Mr. Berns made a point of having fun with that, too. It was no accident that the annual Berns Clancy Christmas parties held in downtown Urbana were "can't miss" events.

One measure of a man's life is his impact on the lives of others. In that respect, Mr. Berns was rich indeed, mostly because throughout his life he made a point of trying to enrich the lives of others.

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