Local Politics

Former Rocky Mount mayor dies

Posted August 1, 2011 6:03 a.m. EDT
Updated August 1, 2011 1:21 p.m. EDT

— 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.”