Former Poteau mayor passes away Saturday afternoon

David Seeley
PDN Editor

Former Poteau mayor Jeff Shockley passed away suddenly Saturday afternoon from a pulmonary embolism in the lungs that had no warning of taking place, according to current Poteau Mayor Scotty White.
Shockley was sworn in as Poteau mayor April 19, 1999, a position he held until he announced the fact that he would not seek re-election in a letter published in The Poteau Daily News on Jan. 12, 2019. His tenure officially ended at noon April 15, 2019 when White was sworn in as his successor.
Shockley moved to Poteau in 1970 in the eighth-grade from El Paso, Texas. He graduated from Poteau and attended Carl Albert State College.
His favorite part of being mayor?
"People," he said to then-PDN Reporter Amanda Corbin in a Jan. 12, 2019 story talking about him not seeking re-election. "Trying to help people."
Shockley has overseen a multitude of changes over 20 years, be it shifts in council members, area lawmakers or school superintendents. And with those changes, he has helped implement a number of projects to better the city, he said.
"One thing a lot of people won't remember is the Witteville bridge," he said. "It was a one-lane, wooden bridge. Now it's a good two-lane, concrete, safe bridge. There's a lot of traffic on that bridge."
He said he knew projects he wanted to do, such as fixing the historic downtown's sidewalks, its parking situation, widening the road and switching the stoplights into stop signs. Sidewalks have been fixed, stop signs installed and the parking slots slanted at angle to allow a wider roadway for passing vehicles.
He said the construction of the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center (completed in 2011) and the Patrick Lynch Public Library (completed in 2013) were also two large projects finished during his time as mayor.
The city also now sports four new ball fields, and the airport and a couple of parks were expanded, and many sewer and water lines have been upgraded, Shockley said. The Cavanal Scenic Expressway saw its completion, and he implemented drug testing for city employees.
"It was a lot of time and effort," he said. "I owe it all to the city of Poteau and the employees. The employees are awesome."