Roy B. Laos III, a Republican elected three times to the Tucson City Council from south-side Ward 5, died Saturday at Northwest Medical Center after a brief illness. He was 65.
He was surrounded by family when he passed, said friend Ed Ackerley, who knew Laos for nearly 40 years.
“He will be missed,” said Ackerley, adding that he will always remember Laos’ “quirky smile while raising an eyebrow.”
Laos was first elected to the City Council in 1977 and as an incumbent served three terms. He was defeated for a fourth term by Democrat Steve Leal in 1989.
Former Councilman Brent L. Davis, a Democrat who served with Laos, said there were five Democrats on the council and the Republicans were Laos and Mayor Lew Murphy.
“We all served in a time of civility — something that has now gone awry in our political system. We would fight like cats and dogs over a policy, and then go have a beer together. You don’t see it today, and that is what is missing in our political system as our country stands divided,” Davis said.
“Roy was just a great guy, no question about it,” said Davis. “There was never any disrespect between the two of us even though we didn’t agree on many issues. Roy was a moderate Republican in his day.”
Laos was appointed Marana town manager in 1991 and resigned 16 months later.
Prior to serving Marana, he was a radio talk-show host on KNST for seven months.
He graduated from Tucson High School and attended the University of Arizona, receiving a bachelor’s degree in public administration. He worked in the corporate affairs office of Golden Eagle Distributors in 1989.
After his mother, Anna Baffert Laos, a businesswoman and community activist, died in 2017, Laos managed the downtown area Roy’s Corner Market, 647 S. Sixth Ave.
The Laos family plans to keep the market open, Ackerley said.
The family market was first opened as Roy’s Arizona Pharmacy after his parents married in 1952. It operated for decades — his father Roy Elias Laos Jr. was a pharmacist and his mother ran the store.
When Laos’ father, who died in 2014, was attending the UA, he worked for his family’s bus company — originally the Occidental Bus Line that later became Old Pueblo Transit Co. The bus line, which operated from 1923 to 1979, served Tucson’s south and west sides.
Laos is survived by four brothers, a son and a grandson.
Services are pending.