Former Washougal mayor and councilman George “Jeff” Guard has died.
Guard, 66, who served on the city of Washougal’s city council from 1987 to 2001, and as the city’s mayor from 2002 to 2006, died early Tuesday morning, according to his family.
Guard came from a Washougal family that produced two mayors — his brother, Sean, served as the city’s leader from 2010 to 2017 — and graduated from Washougal High School in 1971.
“The sudden loss of Jeff today has shocked all of the family,” said Sean Guard, Jeff Guard’s youngest brother. “Jeff has been working to get back into the community after a number of injuries in the last few years, which really restricted his activities. The day after Christmas he fell and broke his shoulder, which resulted in him being hospitalized and then spending some time in a care center. He had just gone in (Monday) for surgery.”
Jeff Guard ran for mayor of Washougal in 2001 and won the primary election with 53 percent of the vote. On Nov. 6, 2001, he beat his opponent, Charles Crumpacker, by a 70 to 30 percent margin.
In his 2001 voters’s pamphlet statement, Guard said he believed the city needed to welcome economic growth while understanding the “serious livability issues” posed by the “physical realities of growth.”
“Careful planning for public safety and infrastructure is critical,” Guard stated in 2001.
Guard served as the city’s mayor for four years. He lost to his opponent, Stacee Sellers, in the November 2005 election.
Rose Jewell, assistant to Washougal City Manager David Scott, worked with Jeff Guard during his tenure as Washougal’s mayor.
“He was very passionate about Washougal,” Jewell said of Jeff Guard. “He had a strong commitment to serving the community. He loved where he lived. He provided strong and competent leadership, but he wasn’t overbearing. He had a humble and calm demeanor. He was always kind, gentle and very respectful.”
Jewell added that Jeff Guard was instrumental in the hiring of the city’s first city administrator, which she called “a huge thing for the city.”
“He was an advocate and proponent of the downtown revitalization. That was something he cared about. He got the wheels in motion,” Jewell said. “He fought for what he felt was best. I’ll remember him as a happy guy. He was always laughing. He was easy to be around and easy to talk to.”
Sean Guard said his brother “lived and breathed Washougal.” Aside from serving on the city council and as mayor, Jeff Guard also served on the Washougal Planning Commission, the city’s Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Committee, the Washougal School District Foundation Board of Directors and several other committees.
“He was just so proud of his hometown,” Sean Guard added about his brother’s Washougal pride. “While he could be opinionated and would always speak his mind, he also treated people with compassion and respect. He loved the teachings of Gandhi and always wanted the world to be at peace.”
Sean Guard said his brother had a “huge impact on so many people” and that, within a few hours of the news being shared that Jeff Guard had died, he and his family received an outpouring of comments from people remembering Jeff.
“The content of the comments and the private messages that family members have received show the depth of interaction that Jeff had with people from all walks of life,” Sean Guard said.
He added that details of a service to honor Jeff Guard’s life are pending at this time.
Post-Record reporters Wayne Havrelly and Doug Flanagan contributed to this article.
Editor’s Note: The photo caption accompanying this article was edited on Feb. 6, 2020, to reflect the fact that former Washougal Mayor Les Sonneson is pictured at far right, and that Jeff Guard’s date of death was Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2020.