JACKSONVILLE, Fla — During his tenure in City Hall (1979-1987) Jake Godbold left an indelible mark on this city. He is remembered for his brick and mortar efforts, but he is remembered most for being a people guy
Old glory graced the entrance of the Prime Osborne Convention Center while his flag-draped coffin was lying in state on the inside.
"I remember him for his honesty," said Derek Igou. "He's honest as the day his long."
It was a celebration of his life and his legacy. Friends and supporters spoke of his character and his charisma.
"He was someone who brought everyone together: black, white, yellow, green, protestant, catholic, Jewish and that's what he lived for," said Paul McCormick.
Others remembered how he made a concerted effort to share the wealth of city hall with all neighborhoods
"He did things that nobody else would do and thought of,"' said Betty Merritt.
Before leaving office, Godbold left a legacy of significant projects like the Mayor Clinic, the Jazz Festival, the now-demolished Jacksonville Landing and more; it was called the billion-dollar decade.
"The Florida Theater was a special place for him and we renovated that," said Rick Catlett.
Catlett work with Godbold a short time and now heads the Gator Bowl Association.
"He loved this city and worked so hard for this city," said Catlett.
Perhaps fitting for the man who brought the Jacksonville Jazz Festival was how the celebration of his life began.
A New Orleans style brass band lead the celebration with "When the Saints go Marching in" setting the tone for what's to come.
The service was filled with songs and praise; it was uplifting.
“It was impossible to be in a room with him and not be infected by his enthusiasm,” said former Mayor John Peyton.
Peyton was Godbold's intern in the 1980s.
Mayor Lenny Curry and former mayors Alvin Brown, John Delaney and Tommy Hazouri were also in attendance.
"He was a voice for the voiceless," said former Mayor Brown.
Former State Senator Betty Holzendorf who worked for Godbold said he cared for this city and for the people.
“He made this city what it is,” Holzendorf said. “The way he did it was to make each and every one of us like ourselves.”
Godbold, died Jan. 23, but stayed active until the end of his life, advocating against the sale of JEA.
He was popular because he cared and showed that he cared; Someone said it is hard to imagine Jacksonville without him.
Godbold was laid to rest in a private ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery.
At the end of the day, Delaney said, Godbold’s legacy isn’t just the organizations and structures he had his hand in bringing to the city; it’s also his impact on Jacksonville’s residents: “He instilled hope.”