ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Former St. Augustine mayor and city commissioner George Gardner died Tuesday. He was 83.
Gardner began his term as mayor in 2002 and served through in 2004 before serving as a City Commissioner until 2006, according to current Mayor Tracy Upchurch.
Before serving in the public sector, Gardner and his wife owned a toy shop on Charlotte Street and even lived above the shop, according to Upchurch.
"This gave George a profoundly empathetic understanding between the needs of the tourism business community and the needs of residents," Upchurch said in his statement. "It also provided an appreciation for both the joys, as well as the challenges, of living downtown."
While serving as mayor, he focused on the city's parking and traffic issues, including helping to secure funds to build and overseeing the construction of the parking garage, according to Upchurch. Gardner also focused on establishing neighborhood associations that helped, in Upchurch's words, "to stabilize the historic character of our neighborhoods."
Gardner also established what became known as The St. Augustine Report, a newsletter with information about city business.
"For newer residents, George is known for his newsletter; but, for residents who have been here over the years, his newsletter reminds us of his fingerprint on the City," Upchurch said. "He connected us. Perhaps this is what we can most celebrate about George."
St. Augustine City Hall will lower its flags to half-staff on a date yet to be determined to honor Gardner.
"Our hearts go out to Sally, the entire Gardner family and all who knew and loved George," Upchurch said. "George loved his family and community, and we are all better off from his lasting contributions to make St. Augustine a better place."