Viewing held for late Newberry Mayor Freddie Warmack

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NEWBERRY, Fla. (WCJB) -- Family, friends and public officials gathered at Hunt Funeral Home in Newberry late Friday afternoon to honor the city's first African American mayor.

Mayor Freddie Warmack passed away April 1 at the age of 87. Warmack was a veteran and community leader, serving as on the city commission from October 1974 through October 1984 and as mayor from October 1984 through October 1994.

More than his public service, his family gathered to remember Warmack as the humble father he was.

"He let his light shine for him, he didn't shine for the light," said his daughter Cynthia Warmack. "He wanted what was best for the whole entire city. He just didn't focus on one individual, his focus was on the whole entire city, because he was a people person."

Warmack oversaw the building of the current city hall, and spearheaded education and housing efforts. Across the street from Friday's viewing is Freddie Warmack Park.

"I'm not sure anybody could follow in Mayor Warmack's footsteps. We all do our best," said Mayor Jordan Marlowe. "But the city commission and myself, we all stand on the shoulders of giants here in the City of Newberry. All of the successes we have, the groundwork for those successes were laid by men like Freddie Warmack."

Born in the Jim Crow Era, Warmack served in public office for 20 years and made history as the city's first African American mayor.

"He paved the way for other Afro Americans to be in positions such as him," said his grandson Jay Mayberry. "So I'm very very proud to have him for my grandfather and his legacy will definitely go on."

On Friday, Mayor Marlowe announced that Governor Ron DeSantis had approved a request to lower flags at the Alachua County Courthouse, Newberry City Hall and the Florida State Capitol to half-staff in honor of Warmack. That will be in effect from sunrise to sunset Saturday.

Warmack's funeral is set for 11 a.m. Saturday.

"He deserved every reward and everything that he got because of the fact of the person that he was inside," Cynthia said. "Inside and out, he had a heart of gold, always had a smile."