Hal Conklin was a great man -- a gifted political leader, passionate environmentalist, dedicated champion of the arts, economic visionary and true community hero.
His love for Santa Barbara and concern for its future were constant and authentic, and the lasting influence of the former Mayor and longtime City Council member may be found throughout the city, from Stearns Wharf to Paseo Nuevo and the Arts District to the Granada Theatre, not to mention Common Table community dinners on State Street and beyond.
"We love Hal because he was a seeker," is how the Capps family, with whom he worked on many campaigns and projects, described him. "His inquisitive, hopeful, and open mind and heart led him to foster connections, build community, and be guided by compassion."
"Our hearts are heavy with the passing of our long-time family friend...yet we are buoyed by the inspiration of such a life lived so fully, graciously, and spiritually grounded," they said.
A few months ago, Newsmakers was privileged and delighted to have the opportunity for an extended conversation with Hal, his first full-length interview since he had fallen ill last summer, and one of the final in-depth published records of his thoughts on the state of the city and about its future:
"I have re-engaged in a lot of conversations in the community about where the community could go, and I've been asked to head up a lot of conversations about where the community could go," he told Newsmakers this week.
"And in some respects it's like being the mayor without being the mayor," he added with a smile.
Today, we're re-publishing that interview, both to honor one of Santa Barbara's most caring, involved compassionate and distinguished citizens, whose personal values matched his public persona and pronouncements, and to remember his enduring spirit and zest for life.
As he said back in February, "I have nothing but gratitude at this point."
Rest In Peace, Hal.
Image: Hal Conklin in 2017 (Santa Barbara Independent).