CHIPPEWA FALLS — After 36 years of service on the Chippewa County Board, Larry Willkom has announced his resignation, citing health issues.

Willkom, 77, of the town of Lafayette, served as County Board chairman from 2010 to 2012. He couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday; the resignation letter was written by his daughter, who is listed as his temporary guardian.

Willkom represented District 9 on the board, covering the town of Hallie and most of the town of Lafayette.

Both current and former board members praised Willkom and his efforts over nearly four decades as a county supervisor.

“When I first got on the board, I sat next to him,” recalled former board chairman Anson Albarado of Cadott. “He was helpful in getting me acclimated. I got a lot of insight from him on how to be a good board member.”

Willkom has been retired since 1998 from the state’s Department of Health & Human Services. Albarado said that his work in DHS was valuable as a County Board member.

“He was chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, and he knew a lot about (the process), and he had a lot of state contacts. I learned a lot from him.”

Former board member Larry Marquardt of the town of Hallie also saw Willkom as a mentor during his tenure.

“He was an outstanding leader,” Marquardt said. “He was very conservative — he didn’t want to spend any money. He voted ‘no’ a lot. He had a great mind of knowledge. I have a lot of respect for him.”

Over his career on the board, Willkom was a frequent visitor to the courthouse, interacting with staff and learning about upcoming issues, Marquardt noted.

“He did his homework. He knew what was going on,” Marquardt said.

Albarado echoed Marquardt’s comments about Willkom being fiscally conservative and casting several votes against spending measures.

“I know he didn’t want to spend a lot of money and he was always looking out for the taxpayers,” Albarado said.

Board member Chuck Hull of Chippewa Falls said he was surprised at learning of Willkom stepping down.

“It’s an extraordinarily long time to be on the board,” Hull said.

Board chairman Jared Zwiefelhofer of Bloomer said he will accept applications through Feb. 20 from candidates to fill out the final 13 months of Willkom’s term. Application letters should be sent to Traci Bremness in the county administrator’s office. Zwiefelhofer said his goal is to appoint the replacement at the March board meeting. The new board member would replace Willkom on all the committees he was currently on.

“I’d like to thank Larry for his 36 years,” Zwiefelhofer said. “He’ll be missed by the board.”

Board members earn $70 a month, plus $35 for each board or committee meeting they attend, plus mileage reimbursement.