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PROVO — Provo City Councilman Stephen Hales died Wednesday morning, a little more than a month after undergoing surgery for a serious illness.
Hales' City Council colleagues said his death came as a surprise, and Chairman Gary Garrett called it "a huge loss."
Hales left behind his wife, Calli, and six children. He was preceded in death his oldest son who died from brain cancer in 2012, according to Hales' website.
Details of the councilman's illness were not immediately released. He released the following statement after a surgery in December:
"I have undergone a serious medical procedure and will continue to receive subsequent treatments. My wife Calli, my family and I thank everyone who have reached out through their service, thoughts and prayers. I am anxious to continue my work with my family, church, business, teaching, and in my capacity as an Provo City Council member representing District 5."
Hales was elected to the City Council in November 2013. He was "a tireless advocate for the revitalization and protection of his neighborhoods that he represented," said Matt Taylor, Provo City Council executive director.
As a City Council, we are filled with sadness and grief at Stephen's sudden, unexpected passing today. ... We will miss his friendship, but we will remember his remarkable contributions to our city, including his recent work to strengthen Provo city's brand and identity.
–Gary Garrett, Provo City Council chairman
Hales worked to "continue to press forward initiatives that would encourage the revitalization of the neighborhoods for families and homeowners, and he worked toward those ends," Taylor said. "He was just a very well-balanced, well-tempered individual who considered all of the opinions and facts."
Hales unwittingly designed the former Provo flag, Taylor said. A design he created for an economic development initiative in the '80s was later adopted as the city flag "unbeknownst to him," Taylor said.
Hales recently was part of a committee that recommended the final option for the new city flag that was adopted in early January, according to Taylor.
Councilman David Sewell said he felt "very sad that our time together was cut so short" and called Hales "more than a respected council colleague. I quickly came to think of him as a friend."
Gary Winterton, another councilman, said he was "truly … blessed to have known such a kind and thoughtful person. I have appreciated his compassion to all that he came in contact with as he served us here in Provo. His love for our city and the people who live here is so evident as I look at the legacy he leaves us. His influence and contribution to our community is manifested in so much of Provo’s past and what we look forward to as a bright future. I am saddened at our loss today but am elevated by and grateful for my association with Stephen Hales.”
Hales owned advertising agency Stephen Hales Creative and taught graphic design courses at BYU and Utah Valley University. Work produced by Stephen Hales Creative was recognized on state, national and international levels, according to his website.
He was given the 2003 Ronald Reagan award by the Utah County Republican Party and was recognized by the Provo Arts Council and Provo City Council for community service. Hales was also involved with the Utah National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
"As a City Council, we are filled with sadness and grief at Stephen’s sudden, unexpected passing today. He is a man of great faith and exceptional integrity. He was thoughtful in his community service and creative and brilliant in his profession," Garrett said in a statement. "We will miss his friendship, but we will remember his remarkable contributions to our city, including his recent work to strengthen Provo city’s brand and identity. We extend our love and sympathy to Calli and to all of Stephen’s family."