LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – The Lakeland community is mourning the death of a beloved former mayor.

Former Lakeland Mayor Buddy Fletcher passed away on Tuesday at the age of 84.

Fletcher served as the mayor of Lakeland for nearly 17 years.

“The city is at a loss when you lose someone who’s been so influential to the city for so many years,” former Parks and Recreation Director Bill Tinsley told News Channel 8.

Prior to becoming mayor, Fletcher was a city commissioner.

Former colleagues say he was instrumental in transforming downtown into what it is today. He focused his efforts on economic development and parks and recreation.

“Downtown Lakeland was sort of a blighted area. He was pretty well known to say that downtown Lakeland was a community living room and we really had to concentrate on revitalization of our downtown,” City Spokesperson Kevin Cook said.

“Buddy Fletcher was the best mayor that I think this city has ever seen,” said current Mayor Howard Wiggs.

The Lakeland Police Department posted  the following tribute to Fletcher on its Facebook page:

Rest In Peace Mayor Buddy Fletcher.Today, Lakeland lost one of the great ones. Former Mayor Buddy Fletcher passed away today surround by those who loved him most.Buddy served as our Mayor from 1993 until 2010. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife of 65 years, Weetsie, and his family and friends.Thank you for your dedicated service to our city. We will never forget your kind heart.”

“His heart was for the city of Lakeland,” his former secretary Lana Braddy told News Channel 8.

“He was Lakeland’s biggest cheerleader. He was an ambassador for Lakeland,” Mayor Wiggs said.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.STORIES OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON: