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Former Saugus selectman found dead

SAUGUS — Former Saugus Selectman Steve Horlick was found dead at his residence Wednesday. He was 59. 

"He cared about Saugus, first and foremost," said Selectwoman and longtime friend Debra Panetta. "Steve wasn't afraid to speak his mind, even if it was the unpopular viewpoint. He would ask the questions that nobody else wanted to ask. If he went against the grain, that was OK."

Finance Committee Chair Ken DePatto announced Horlick's death during Wednesday evening's committee meeting. 

"It's with a heavy heart that I have to tell all our members and the people of Saugus that we lost Steve Horlick," he said, adding that the former selectman was found deceased following a wellness check conducted at his residence. 

The Saugus Advertiser reported Horlick's death was confirmed by Essex District Attorney's Office Communications Director Carrie Kimball, who said no foul play was suspected and that the death appeared to be medically related. 

A fixture in the Saugus community, Horlick was a Finance Committee member at the time of his death and had previously served as a selectman from 2003 to 2013, as well as a Town Meeting member for Precinct 8.

He also volunteered much of his time to various local events and organizations, including SAVE, or Saugus Action Volunteers for the Environment.  

"Steve has given a lot of his time to this community," DePatto said.  

Panetta told The Item she was "heartbroken" over the news of Horlick's death, and described him as an avid gardener and cat lover with a great sense of humor who went to great lengths to care for the town and its people. 

"If you went to the front of his house, he had tomato plants all over the place. He loved planting," she said, recalling the way Horlick lit up when talking about his garden. "I was on my way to work (one day) and he goes, 'You've got to come over and pick up some of the tomato plants,' and he starts talking about the different types of tomato plants. Of course, I'm like, 'I don't know different types,' but he's going through them saying, 'You've got to take one of those, you've got to take one of these.'

"He would do anything for anybody."

Several other Saugus officials shared tributes to Horlick on Facebook Wednesday and Thursday, with many also noting his dedication to helping others and making the town a better place. 

"I honestly can't believe he's gone. It's a huge loss for Saugus," Panetta said. "The sadness I feel is overwhelming. I hope he is remembered as a fair and honest man that loved Saugus, because that's how I'll always remember my colleague and friend."


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