In the hours following the passing of Manchester Mayor Lonnie Norman, local administrators have expressed comments on the death of one of the city's most influential leaders.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen has issued the following statement:
Today we share in the sorrow of a great loss to our community. Mayor Lonnie J.Norman was a dedicated servant to the people of Manchester for several years. He served as Mayor during the early 9o's and again since 2012.
Lonnie was a statesman and a diplomat, but above all else, he was kind, honest, and thoughtful. In a world that seems to so easily divided, Mayor Norman brought us together. Mayor Norman understood the importance of compromise and honest debate.
He guided our community with a strong and steady yet gentle hand with empathy and compassion.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with our beloved Mayor's family, and to his extended families.
The Norman Family issued a statement:
It is with a deep sense of sadness and a profound sense of loss that the Norman family announces the passing of Mayor Lonnie J. Norman. He passed away early on the morning of October 12 from COVID-19.
It is said that when your work speaks for itself-let it. Mayor Lonnie Norman's eight decades on this planet were filled with work that testifies to both his accomplishments and his values.
He spent 40 years with Arnold Engineering Development Complex, retiring as a technician supervisor. In 1984 he entered public office and in 1991, Mr. Lonnie Norman became the first black Mayor of Manchester, Tennessee. His friends and neighbors returned him to the Mayor's office four times-an act of trust for which he was immensely grateful. In his numerous campaigns for public office, he never lost a political race. He loved his hometown and they loved him.
A new recreation complex, soccer field, improvements to countless parks, other infrastructure, and support for our beloved Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival were among his proudest accomplishments. He also fought hard against rural hospital closures, so all Coffee County citizens could access quality, affordable health care.
Without question Lonnie Norman's greatest accomplishments were as father to Virginia, Deborah, Priscilla, Lonnie, Jr. and grandfather to Brandi Sails and Kandi Guest. The entire family wishes to thank the people of Manchester, Coffee County, and the state of Tennessee for their support during this difficult time.
Even with sadden hearts, we hold tight to Lonnie's favorite
quote: "it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. We as a family appreciate all of the calls, texts, prayers, and well wishes.
COVID-19 is a real and it took our beloved Lonnie Norman from us. To his fellow public officials, we say please remember your duty to keep the public safe. To our fellow citizens, we say please wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and protect public health and each other.
We are all in this together.
In lieu of flowers, we ask donations be sent to St. Jude Children's Hospital and/or Bonnaroo Works Fund.
Manchester City Schools and the Board of Education issued the statement, "Like the entire community, are saddened by the loss of Mayor Lonnie Norman. He was an avid supporter of our school system as well as the City of Manchester. Mayor Norman's love and enthusiasm for our community will be greatly missed."
County Mayor Gary Cordell offered his condolences.
“(His passing) is very troubling. I'm devastated by the news. We worked well together. Mayor Norman will be greatly missed. (I extend) condolences to the family. Such a tragic loss,” he said.
Tullahoma Mayor Ray Knowis shared his sympathies for the family.
“My most sincere condolences to the family of Mayor Lonnie Norman and to the citizens of Manchester on the passing of Mayor Norman. It's been an honor and a privilege to know him as a fellow mayor and most importantly as a friend. He will be missed.”