HUNTINGTON -- Don Maynard was just elected to a post on the Cabell Magistrate Court in November, but he was already on his way to becoming a good judge, a colleague said Monday.
Maynard, 52, died of a heart attack Friday. He left behind a wife and two sons.
Cabell Magistrate Michael Woelfel said he helped train Maynard during the short six months he had the job.
"He took the job very seriously and worked very hard," Woelfel said. "He had picked it up quicker than anyone I'd ever seen."
Maynard retired as an officer with the Huntington Police Department with more than 20 years of service.
Woelfel said Maynard's law enforcement background meant he was already pretty well versed in West Virginia law.
But Woelfel said Maynard went above and beyond the normal learning experience for new magistrates. He did his own research and went to voluntary classes to hone his skills. Woelfel said Maynard went at the job like a young man eager to get ahead.
"He was a good guy, that's all i can say about him," Woelfel said. "The court is going to miss out on a good judge."
Maynard's sudden death came as a shock to those who knew him. Woelfel said Maynard appeared very physically fit and was known to be a devoted runner and exerciser.
The two of them campaigned together last year and Woelfel said he noticed that at campaign dinners loaded with lots of homemade food, Maynard wouldn't overdo it.
"He was very conscientious about his diet," Woelfel said.
Beyond that, Woelfel said Maynard was simply well-liked in the community. Woelfel said it's rare that you see someone who has a lot of friends but is also a serious professional. But he said that was Maynard.
"He was a great guy," Woelfel said. "He was the kind of guy that would do anything for you."
Maynard's office is right next door to Woelfel's. He said it's been strange to see it empty.
"It's going to be tough," he said. "It's tough for everybody down here."
In a statement from the collected Cabell judiciary published by the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington, Maynard was remembered fondly.
"Although only recently elected, Don was totally committed to serving the citizens of Cabell County and will be deeply missed by all who knew him," the statement said. "Only Friday, when asked to help a fellow magistrate, Don said 'Sure, I'm a team player, what needs to be done?' That generosity of spirit and dedication to his job was second nature to Don and will be hard to duplicate."