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Mayor Edward King, shot and killed last week during...

By BILL BREWER

MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa -- Mayor Edward King, shot and killed last week during a City Council meeting by a man apparently upset over sewer problems, was eulogized at his funeral as the 'finest mayor in Iowa.'

An overflow crowd of more than 2,000 people in the city of 7,300 turned out Sunday at services for King, 53, who also will be honored with a fountain to be built in the Mount Pleasant town square during the spring.

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Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, told the mourners who packed the First Methodist Church that the murder of the mayor and the wounding of two other officials Wednesday night was an example of 'man's inhumanity to man.'

'The tragedy within this tragedy was Ed King was the finest mayor in Iowa,' Leach said. 'Whatever sickness gripped our neighbor must not be allowed to become an epidemic. People should die of old age ... not life's hassles.'

Ralph Davis, 69, who burst in on the meeting shouting obscenities before opening fire, has been charged with first-degree murder in King's death, police said.

Davis was charged with attempted murder in the wounding of two council members, Joann Sankey, 43, and Ronald Dupree, 39. Sankey remained in critical condition today, but Dupree was released around 11 a.m. from University Hospitals in Iowa City following treatment for head, neck and arm wounds.

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Davis, a loner described as an 'oddball,' was said to be upset by sewage backup on his property.

Ernie Hayes, a lifelong friend of King, in a voice choked with emotion, eulogized the mayor at the service as 'everyone's friend.'

King, who served as mayor for 11 years, was hailed as the catalyst behind the economic diversification of Mount Pleasant that enabled the city to prosper despite the weak farm economy in southeastern Iowa.

Hayes credited King with bringing Blue Bird Midwest, a school-bus manufacturer, to Mount Pleasant in 1961, and said the mayor was the impetus behind the decision by the Arkansas-based Wal-Mart department store chain to build its Midwest distribution center in the city.

Other mourners Sunday included Gov. Terry Branstad and more than 50 city employees, including the police chief, the public works director and four of six council members who were in the City Council chambers during the shooting.

The church was packed with nearly 1,500 people on its main floor and balcony and another 550 who listened through speakers set up in the church basement.

About 20 people who could not get inside stood on lawns across Main Street and listened to the eulogy and prayers filtering through the windows.

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King is survived by his wife, Viola, who broke into tears several times during the ceremony.

Family members and nine busloads of mourners followed King's hearse in a procession through town, past the gray-brick City Hall where the shooting took place to Forest Home Cemetery, where the mayor was buried.

Businesses on the town square closed Sunday in King's honor.

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