Clarence Lightner, 80, was remembered Thursday at a memorial service at the BTI Center for Performing Arts in Raleigh.
Hundreds of family and friends gathered to celebrate the legacy of Raleigh's first and only African-American Mayor at a visitation ceremony.
Governor Mike Easley, and others, paid tribute to Lightner, who served as mayor from 1973 to 1975.
Lightner was praised for building a legacy that transformed Raleigh.
At his funeral Friday, the Davie Street Presbyterian Church was full as friends and family recognized Lightner for his ability to compromise in politics and neighborhoods. He was also remembered as kind and helpful.
Family friend Priscilla Daye described Lightner as "a godfather of Raleigh, our community, our family."
"He gave me my first piece of chewing gum when I was a little girl. He and my father were Army buddies. He was one of the best friends anybody could have in the community," Daye said.
Lightner died Monday of heart failure.