John Weichsel, Southington’s first town manager, passed away Friday night. He was 80. Weichsel was first appointed town manager in 1966 and served until early 2011. He was succeeded by current Town Manager Garry Brumback. When the system was worked out in 1966, it was decided that the Town Manager would serve at the will of the Town Council, without any formal contract. Weichsel served without a contract for his entire tenure. Before Southington, Weichsel had worked in Michigan and New York. When he was initially hired, his salary was $13,500. The population of Southington grew from 27,000 to approximately 42,000, in the 44 years of his leadership. At his retirement announcement in the spring of 2010, Weichsel credited his staff and the numerous Planning & Zoning Commissions over the years with successfully managing the town’s rapid growth. In his role as administrator, he also had to deal with tough labor relations, difficult man-dates from the state, and the perennial problem of garbage. In the 1980s, Weichsel took an active role in creating the trash disposal plant in Bristol. He was able to coordinate the efforts of numerous area towns and the plant operates successfully to this day. Weichsel was known for his concise, often blunt, manner of speaking. Several former and current town councilors said they appreciated this quality, even if it occasionally frustrated the public. “Being a manager is quite different than being a mayor,” Weichsel said at his retirement announcement. “There’s an old joke that someone in my position could not even be elected dogcatcher. I have the unpleasant task of having to tell people ‘no.’” His wealth of knowledge on municipal government proved to be an asset for dozens of local officials who were elected during his career. Following his retirement in Southington, Weichsel served briefly as town manager in East Hampton. The town flag has been lowered to half staff in his memory. No information on funeral arraignments has been made public yet.