Herb Drinkwater, who as a four-term mayor oversaw Scottsdale's transformation from sleepy village to a posh resort destination, has died of cancer. He was 61.
Drinkwater, who was diagnosed last year with salivary-duct cancer, died Sunday.The man known as "Mr. Scottsdale" spent nearly three decades in local government as a commissioner, councilman and mayor from 1980 to 1996.
Scottsdale's population and boundaries more than doubled during Drinkwater's tenure. Known for his salt-and-pepper beard and Stetson hat, Drinkwater was credited with defining the city's character and helping lure the Mayo Clinic and luxury resorts like the Princess.
"In many ways Mayor Drinkwater was Scottsdale," Mayor Sam Campana said. "He looked like, sounded like and dressed like he was mayor of the `West's Most Western Town.' "
"I tried to keep a list of the people who would ask about him, and it just became futile," Campana said. "He was just loved by so many."
The owner of a home-building business and a liquor store, Drinkwater was elected to the City Council in 1970, telling voters he would safeguard the small-town character. Scottsdale grew and merged with Phoenix, but Drinkwater's home phone number was always in the book.