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Longtime Lakeland Mayor 'Buddy' Fletcher Dies

Photo Courtesy The Ledger

One of the longest-serving mayors in Lakeland's history has died. Mayor Ralph "Buddy" Fletcher passed away Tuesday at the age of 84.

Nobody called him Ralph. Ever. He was "Buddy" to everyone, and acted as if he never met a person he didn't like.  Buddy Fletcher died Tuesday at the age of 84. The Polk County native was Lakeland's mayor for 17 years - from 1993 to 2010.

Fletcher owned a printing shop when he first ran for Lakeland City Commission in 1988, with the campaign slogan “Who’s Your Buddy?” He sold the shop just three years ago. During his tenure, Lakeland focused on fixing up its downtown, and it has since become a model in the use of public funds and planning to spur renovation of its downtown business district.

Current Mayor Howard Wiggs - who served for years on the commission with Fletcher - told The Ledger of Lakeland the city had lost “the greatest mayor Lakeland ever had.”  Fletcher is survived by his wife of nearly 66 years, Marguerite.

Everybody knows her as "Weetsie."

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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