Alex Arshinkoff listened carefully to his mentor, Ray Bliss, who taught him the value of two political parties, the competition resulting in something better for communities and the country. From the time he became chairman in 1978, at a raw age 23, Arshinkoff spent the next four decades devoted to his idea of making the Summit County Republican Party strong.

Following his death on Monday at age 62, many people have repeated what they have said for years, even meeting Arshinkoff for the first time: He is, or was, one of a kind. That goes, especially, for his dedication to the party. It is rare to see a county party gain as much influence as he built for the Summit version.

It was the product of time, hard work, political savvy and know-how, from fund-raising to recruiting candidates. Arshinkoff could be warm, engaging, funny. Few told a better story, or enjoyed it more. He often brimmed with enthusiasm for his work, even as his health declined in recent years.

Those who followed his career are hard pressed to describe his political philosophy. Arshinkoff wasn’t a conservative ideologue, though he would play along. He was, foremost, about the party work, or where his strengths resided. Part of his legacy involves opening doors to women running for office. He calculated, characteristically, that in a nonpartisan judicial race, a female candidacy added a handful of percentage points.

This isn’t to suggest that everyone agreed with his methods. Republican dissenters worried that in pursuing a higher statewide, and occasionally national, profile, he neglected to invest in races close to home. The concern deepened as Arshinkoff embraced the role of lobbyist. They asked: Where did the job of party boss end and the lobbying begin?

This editorial page clashed repeatedly with Arshinkoff over the years. That has included differences over what is best for the University of Akron, the worry here, and still held, that the school became an extension of the political patronage operation at the expense of high quality.

Arshinkoff proved a bullying presence at the county Board of Elections, Jennifer Brunner, then secretary of state, blowing the whistle on his intimidating behavior. He put at risk the independence of judges. He stood in the way for too long when the county needed to expand its judgeships.

His leading measure was: what is best for the party. It was everything. Thus, when the moment arrived to put aside partisanship, to support something larger than the party, say, the city, county or region as a whole, he resisted seeing his way there.

If he had come through, even on a few notable occasions, his leadership would have been applauded, the party actually benefiting, an outcome Ray Bliss understood well. Which leaves the Arshinkoff legacy. He built something rare, a county political party with real clout, and he achieved much within that scope. He also made unfortunate choices, resulting in damage along the way.