CINCINNATI — Todd Portune’s brother said he worried to the very end that he hadn’t done enough.
“Imagine that, even with everything he was facing he was worried he'd somehow let down the people of Hamilton County and let down his children somehow,” Bob Portune said.
Portune, who was the longest-serving elected commissioner in Hamilton County history, died on Jan. 25. He was 61 years old.
Bob Portune described his brother as an inspiration; he was relentlessly humble and left big shoes to fill.
Portune was a father of three who spent 27 years in public service, where he was known for a tireless work ethic and devotion to the needs of average citizens.
Former Mayor Dwight Tillery said he could always count on Portune when it came to issues surrounding the black community and people living in poverty.
“He was a drum major for justice,” Tillery said. “Todd, the people love you and thank you for your life's journey. And we will never, ever forget you."
Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus said Portune was "a giant among us.”
"He had a long list of progressive ideas he wanted to accomplish, and accomplish he did ... nothing was too big or too small. He needed to do all of it,” Driehaus said.
He served four terms on Cincinnati City Council before breaking the Republican stronghold on the Hamilton County Commission in 2000 by becoming the first Democrat to be elected in nearly four decades.
“You can see his fingerprints on almost every part of our county. And that’s a testament to his 20 years of service,” said Chris Monzel, who served on city council and the commission with Portune.
Portune announced his retirement in September after he said his cancer returned, and he officially resigned on Dec. 31.