Former Mayor Ed Austin
Former Mayoral Candidate Audrey Moran and Mayor Ed Austin
Courtesy: I'm With Audrey Campaign
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The family of former Jacksonville Mayor Ed Austin who died Saturday at the age of 84 thanked well-wishers on Easter for their support and tributes, calling Austin an "inspiration."
"He lived a great life and accomplished much throughout his life - but he was always humble and remained devoted to God and his family. Our family has been blessed by having such an amazing man in our lives," said a statement from Austin's son, Steve.
Ed Austin served as mayor between 1991 and 1995.
"Dad loved Jacksonville and it's clear from all of the wonderful words expressed by friends and people from all over town that he was loved in return," the statement said.
During his tenure, Austin initiated the revitalization of downtown through his River City Renaissance Plan. The plan led to rebuilding the Florida Theatre, Ritz Theatre and the current EverBank Stadium, according to city of Jacksonville archives.
One of his goals was increasing the amount of park and recreation space in Arlington. The District II Regional Park on McCormick Road was dedicated to Austin in 2005.
Mayoral candidate Alvin Brown called Austin the "ultimate statesman" who "set the highest possible standard of devotion to our community."
"Mayor Austin was more than just a leader. He was a caring mentor and teacher who inspired countless people to devote their lives to public service. His loss is devastating...." he said.
Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton said Austin was "a true statesman and the epitome of a public servant."
"His efforts, both while serving in office and in the years that followed, have helped to shape Jacksonville and make it a better place," said Peyton. "Personally, I am forever grateful to Mayor Austin for his friendship."
"He died peacefully. He would have been 85 this summer," said Audrey Moran, former mayoral candidate and good friend of Austin.
She said she saw Austin two weeks ago, and that he appeared cheerful and healthy. "A lot of laughing, a lot of sharing. I feel so fortunate to have had that time with him," said Moran.
Tommy Hazouri said Austin's accomplishments range from downtown development with the River City Renaissance Plan to helping bring the Jaguars to town.
"As a mayor he carried the city well an carried the torch forward to continue to grow," said the former mayor and current Duval County school board member.
In 1996, Austin's wife of more than 30 years, Patricia, died in a car crash.
Even after his term, Austin has been remembered. In 2005 an Arlington park was renamed the Ed Austin Regional Park.
"I am very proud to be here, I think what you see here today is what a great city is all about," Austin said at the dedication.
"He was a perfect gentleman. He was an outstanding public servant," said Hazouri.
Months ago, he continue to serve, taping commercials endorsing Audrey Moran in her mayoral run. Now, Moran said her friend will be remembered as mentor to her, and so many others.
"He based everything he did on integrity and compassion. And that is quite a reputation to leave behind," said Moran.
First Coast News