Local Politics

Former Rocky Mount mayor dies

Posted August 1, 2011

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— The former mayor who helped Rocky Mount and the surrounding community overcome the devastation of Hurricane Floyd in 1999 died Sunday at the age of 75 after battling pancreatic cancer.

Fred Turnage served on the Rocky Mount City Council in 1971 and was elected mayor pro tem a year later. In 1973, at age 37, he became the youngest mayor of Rocky Mount, and he served nine terms until 2007.

Notable among the challenges Turnage faced as mayor was the devastation of Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

"His sensitive, compassionate and intuitive leadership created a sense of comfort and security among the citizens and hastened the city’s recovery," the city said in a statement Monday. "He was a strong advocate for facilities that would improve the quality of life and delivery of services for the citizens and improve the working conditions and morale of the city employee family."

Turnage was also instrumental in the development of a new city hall for Rocky Mount, which was renamed in his honor in 2010 as the Frederick E. Turnage Municipal Building.

“We all treasured his friendship and will forever remember him as a true southern gentleman who treated every person he met with dignity, which of course is what endeared him to us all," Rocky Mount Mayor David Combs said.

Flags at all city facilities are lowered to half-staff in Turnage’s honor and will remain that way until after his funeral. Arrangements were not immediately available.

“Mayor Turnage was Rocky Mount’s greatest cheerleader,” Rocky Mount City Manager Charles Penny said. “He demonstrated his heart-felt passion for this community throughout his long and distinguished career of public service and in his personal life as well. Turnage’s legacy should inspire us all to realize that the sky is the limit for Rocky Mount.”


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  • Boostershot Aug 1, 2011

    Rocky Mount has lost a true Southern gentlemen. His beliefs in rebuilding Rocky Mount after Hurricane Floyd is just one of thousands of things he was passionate about. His leadership and believing in doing the right thing will sorely be missed. Rest in peace Mayor Turnage. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  • johnmdlin Aug 1, 2011

    Mayor Turnage was the mayor of Rocky Mount since I was 7 years old. I have since moved away from the area for many many years but have always kept in tune with what goes on there. I remember when he retired, 2007 I think, that he had been mayor for a long time. I do remember him visiting the elementary schools and us touring his office when were young. He was always so humble. I never think about growing up in Rocky Mount without thinking of Mayor Fred Turnage.

  • jdlewis76 Aug 1, 2011

    Rocky Mount desperately needs a lot more leaders of his caliber. He will be sorely missed.

  • rtwiddy Aug 1, 2011

    May you rest in peace sweet dear man. I am blessed to have had the chance to get to know you personally and to work with you over the past three years. Thank you for being such a gentleman, the kindest man I have ever known. We will all miss you greatly. Keeping the Turnage family and the City of Rocky Mount in constant prayer during this time of grief and loss.

  • Garden1 Aug 1, 2011

    May you rest in peace. It was a privilage to have known you and I am so grateful for all you did.

  • YNCSW51 Aug 1, 2011

    Mayor Turnage did a lot of great things for the city of Rocky Mount. My prayers are with the family.

  • Mom V Aug 1, 2011

    You will be missed...a true southern gentleman. Prayers to his family

  • deputywife835 Aug 1, 2011

    You will be missed. Your smile will live in our hearts forever!

  • sabol100 Aug 1, 2011

    Rest in peace Mayor Turnage. Your warm and friendly smile will be missed.

  • delilahk2000 Aug 1, 2011