Fayetteville Buries Long-Time Leader
Posted June 1, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE — Fayetteville Mayor J.L. Dawkins was remembered as a dedicated leader at his funeral Friday.
More than 1,000 people came out to say goodbye to the city's longest leader. He was called a hero by some, and a friend by many.
The community loved Dawkins as much as he loved the community. Friday, the people he served -- residents, city workers, congressmen, and Army Generals -- filled the church to say goodbye.
"He loved the town, loved Fort Bragg as an extended community. And all the soldiers out there and I think he is a true public servant," said Lt Gen. William Tangney, USASOC commander.
His minister, Dr. David Crocker, says Dawkins' life was a one-man crusade to raise the city's self-image and promote what is good about Fayetteville.
In the process, Dawkins treated everyone as an equal member of the community.
"No person was too poor to get from him the same enthusiastic handshake and smile as a college president or a commander at Fort Bragg," Crocker said.
"To me, he was public service," said resident Cureton Johnson. Others called Dawkins a genuine hero.
City workers were honorary pall bearers, and city horses and the city honor guard were all part of the funeral for a man who devoted his life to Fayetteville.
Dawkins also got to say goodbye to Fayetteville on one last ride through downtown, a trip his family wanted him to take.
The processional from the funeral to the burial traveled by the Market House, where bells rang; the new Airborne and Special Operations Museum; Dawkins Plaza, an honor that pleased him so; and City Hall, where employees stepped away from their desks to bid a final farewell to their leader.
At the burial, Fayetteville's flag was presented to the mayor's wife, and planes from a nearby town flew over the cemetery as if Dawkins was one of their own.
Dawkins leaves a gap many say will never be filled.
"I told his wife last night, it left a feeling in me, the same feeling I had when JFK Jr. died and when Princess Diana was killed," said John Cantrell. "It leaves a void in your life that's never really refilled."
The Mayor's daughter told WRAL she wished her father could have been here to see his own funeral.
Dawkins' family requests that contributions in his memory be made to:The Mayor's Civic Vision Fundc/o The Cumberland Community FoundationPO Box 2171Fayetteville, NC 28302