John Crispo, a highly educated man who had a distinguished career as an economist, lecturer, and author and in later years served as a Clearview Township councillor for Ward 3, has died. Crispo, a Creemore resident, died Monday night at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto after an 18-year battle with cancer. He was 76. Ward 7 councillor Shawn Davidson said he was saddened by the news. "He was always a passionate individual," he said in a telephone interview with The Stayner Sun on Tuesday morning. "I quite liked him. Although our views on some issues were much different, I think both of us enjoyed the spirited debate that occurred often." Davidson and Crispo routinely sparred over local growth issues – a jousting that while at times was heated always appeared to contain an air of mutual respect. "He was as likeable as he was frustrating," Davidson said. Mayor Ken Ferguson was at Simcoe County council yesterday and could not be reached for comment. Coincidentally, council accepted Crispo’s resignation Monday night. Ward 4 councillor Thom Paterson, his voice cracking at times, read Crispo’s letter of resignation. "I regret having to inform you and my constituents that I will not be able to serve the remainder of my term as Ward 3 councillor because of a serious deterioration in my health," Crispo wrote. "Unfortunately, this resignation has to be effective immediately." He noted in the letter that he had hoped to "continue at least until we had an official growth plan approved by the county and the province but I cannot make it." He added that he hoped the township’s growth plan would "preserve and protect our rural character and history." Crispo said he liked the debate that occurred while he served on council. "I enjoyed sparring with some of you – you figure out who – and learned to live with mutual frustration with most of the rest of you," he said. "I suspect you will miss me as much as I will you." A final letter from Crispo was sent to constituents in his ward on Monday, explaining why he was resigning. In the letter, he thanked people for their support over the years, including Judy Fuke, his campaign manager. Crispo was elected to council in 2006, beating incumbent Marc Royal. He ran a strong grassroots campaign – one where he pledged to fight rapid growth in the municipality. Councillor Paterson was elected in the same election. Paterson moved to Creemore in March 2004 and the two met in September, quickly striking up a friendship. "We became friends and that developed out of a mutual respect for each other more than anything else," he said in an interview Tuesday. "He’d often just pull into the drive and come bounding through the front door." Paterson said he will miss his friend greatly. He said he last visited with Crispo on Sunday at Princess Margaret. "We had about an hour-long discussion," he said. "It was a very relaxed conversation. He wanted an update on Creemore and we just chatted." Paterson said Crispo was ready for what was to come. "He’d said his goodbyes." He said Crispo was in and out of hospital until the end of last week when he was admitted to palliative care at Princess Margaret. Crispo first came to the area as a weekender in the early 1960s and gradually spent more time in the area. He and his wife, Barbara sold their rural Nottawasaga home a few years ago and settled in Creemore, while also maintaining a home in Toronto. Crispo was an avid skier and golfer. He belonged to the Mad River Golf Club, south of Stayner and Devil’s Glen Ski Club, near Singhampton. Crispo grew up in Toronto and earned a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Toronto (U of T) and a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a professor at U of T and later professor emeritus. At the university, he was the founding director of the Centre for Industrial Relations. In the 1980s, on behalf of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, he campaigned in favour of free trade. Crispo also served on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s board of directors from 1991 to 1994 and was a director and member with several other organizations throughout the years. He wrote several articles and books, including Making Canada Work: Competing in the Global Economy (1992); Can Canada Compete? (1990) and Free Trade: The Real Story (1988). In 2002, he released his memoirs, Rebel Without A Pause. Crispo’s family was requesting privacy Tuesday but his friend, Art McIlwain, said a celebration of life service will be held in Creemore in due course. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and two daughters.