Ed Rarey's connection to the city he's served for more than 20 years as a councilman dates back to its roots.

If you live in Groveport, you've likely heard the story about his great-great-grandfather, whose ability to train horses brought the city worldwide recognition in the 19th century.

John S. Rarey accepted a challenge in 1858 to train a wild race horse named "Cruiser" that belonged to the Earl of Dorchester. Among the horse's fans were Queen Victoria and her children.

"She was so impressed when he came out riding the thing in 30 minutes that she gave him the horse," Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp said.

Cruiser was a celebrity, and the famous horse -- now the local school's mascot -- has been a source of inspiration for the Groveport community for more than 100 years.

Like Cruiser, many consider Ed Rarey to be an icon of the community. After serving six terms, he will resign from Groveport City Council on Friday, March 10.

"My recent health issues have caused me to review my qualifications for this position," he wrote in his resignation letter dated Feb. 3. "I realize that the responsibility requires a great deal of consideration and preparation for the many issues that arise.

"It has been a pleasure working with various council members and the mayor over the many years I have held office. ... But my favorite part has been the interaction with the residents of this wonderful community."

Rarey, who is in his 80s, asked that members of council "always put the needs of the residents first and foremost."

That's what Rarey has done, City Administrator Marsha Hall said.

"You'll never find anyone who is more concerned about the city," she said. "He was always coming into my office with residents' concerns, and we worked through them. (His resignation) will really be the end of an era for the city."

Rarey accomplished much, city officials said. Projects completed during his time in office include the Groveport Recreation Center and the repair and replacement of city sidewalks and other infrastructure projects.

Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert has served with Rarey the longest.

"He has served tirelessly," she said. "Everything we did, he wanted to make sure we all understood how it was going to affect the residents. He and (former) Councilwoman Margaret Contrer worked really hard on making sure that people didn't have to pay for sidewalk repair. I don't think you have that in any other community."

While Rarey is passionate about his community, he also spent more than 60 years as a teacher and track-and-field coach in Gahanna, where his teams won 31 league titles, 26 district and 14 regional titles in addition to capturing Division I state championships in 1979 and 2009.

"But I knew what colors he always wore: red and black," Westcamp said, referring to Groveport's school colors.

City Council will accept resumes for Rarey's seat until noon March 10. The appointed member will fill his unexpired term until Dec. 31.

Rarey will be sorely missed, Westcamp said, but his legacy will continue.

"He's resigned, but he will still be an icon in our community," he said.