FREMONT — Longtime community activist Art Lampert, who until last weekend served on the Alameda County Water District board and who previously had served on the Fremont City Council, has died from a health-related issue, family members said. He was 78.

Lampert had been active in the community for most of his 49 years in Fremont. He served on the City Council from 1972 to 1980 and was elected to the water district board in 1998.

"He really loved the water district. He loved the issues," said Paul Piraino, the district's general manager. "He did his homework, was always extremely well-prepared when it came to board meetings. He had a knack for asking hard questions at times, was always gracious and always looking for ways to improve services."

The water district board on Thursday will discuss whether to appoint someone to fill Lampert's seat or to hold a special election in November, Piraino said.

Before holding public office, Lampert chaired the city's recreation commission, as well as two council-appointed committees that worked to create bike and walking trails in Fremont and turn what now is Quarry Lakes into a recreational area.

As a city councilman, he voted on issues to change downtown Niles from a high- to a low-density housing area and helped kick off the redevelopment of the Irvington district, family members said. Additionally, he was instrumental in saving the city more than $600,000 annually by advocating for a change in the type of street lights the city operated and convinced the city to fund nonprofit social service agencies.

Family members also credited Lampert with helping to bring AC Transit to Fremont in 1973.

"He was the most ethical politician imaginable. He did not vote for something unless he believed it directly benefited the citizens of Fremont," son David Lampert said in a statement.

Added son Roger Lampert: "Dad not only contributed a great amount to the community, but (he) also provided a safe and stable home for me to be raised in. This year was going to be his 50th anniversary of marriage to ... my mother, and they have lived in the same house and neighborhood since 1960."

Lampert grew up in the Bronx in New York City. After moving to the West Coast, he worked on freeways and other public works projects for the state Division of Highways and the cities of Hayward and Mountain View. He retired as director of the state's District Securities Division, where he supervised irrigation, agricultural and water districts.

In addition to his work in public office, Lampert was involved in at least 18 organizations, including the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge, Save San Francisco Bay Association, Regional Parks Association and the local Candle Lighters.

Lampert is survived by his wife, Sumi Lampert of Fremont; daughter Alyssa Thomas and her husband, Jeff; son Roger Lampert; and son David Lampert, his wife Kathe and their three children.

The family is planning a celebration of life in Lampert's memory at Washington Hospital on April 4.

The time has yet to be determined.

Linh Tat covers education and Union City. Reach her at 510-353-7010 or ltat@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read her blog at www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.