Council members mourn Auburn mayor Bill Kirby |

Council members mourn Auburn mayor Bill Kirby

John Orona
Staff Writer

Auburn Mayor Bill Kirby, who died in a plane crash over the weekend, will be remembered as a man of action and leader who knew how to listen, colleagues said.

Kirby, a 72-year-old urologist, piloted the plane with one passenger before crashing under unknown circumstances near the Auburn airport at 10:42 a.m. Saturday, according to Federal Aviation Administration records and the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. One passenger was transported to the hospital with what the FAA lists as serious injuries.

“I am absolutely at a loss for words regarding Bill’s death,” Auburn council member Daniel Berlant said in an email. “I hope that the hate that has centered around town the past week is not what Bill is remembered for since he did so much good throughout the decades.”

Last week, Kirby announced he would step down from the Auburn City Council after more than 10 years following backlash from comparing Trump supporters to the Ku Klux Klan in social media posts. He signaled support for council member Daniel Berlant as his replacement at a council meeting earlier this month. A special meeting Monday to replace him was canceled.

“Bill was always outspoken, especially when he felt he was right,” Berlant said. “What I appreciate the most about working with him on the council was regardless of his strong opinions, he would defer to others on subjects he knew they were more knowledgeable.”

Council member Sandy Amara, who described Kirby as a friend for 30 years, said he was a strong leader that could almost always bring meetings to a consensus.

“He was really a man of actions. I like to say his actions spoke louder than words,” Amara said. “He was always well-prepared and listened to people.”

Kirby’s family released a statement on Facebook.

“Our family is devastated by this tragic news,” it states. “Bill devoted decades of enthusiastic and loving support to his family, his patients and the Auburn community he loved so much. We will miss him immensely but take comfort in knowing he died while flying — one of the other loves of his life.”

Kirby is survived by his son James Kirby, daughter Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez, son-in-law Adam Gonzalez, and two grandchildren, according to the family’s statement.

Public records show Kirby held a private pilot’s license since at least 2004. His plane was a fixed-wing single-engine Cessna.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board on the case.

Both council members said Kirby would be remembered for his passion and devotion to public service and his family.

“This week has been tough for Auburn,” Berlant said. “We have been in the spotlight over an issue that doesn’t reflect the value of our community. I hope this tragic accident can lead us to come together and support each other, especially in the pandemic crisis we are experiencing.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or email

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