The small town of Manchester with a population of about 10,000 hosts the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which attracts about 80,000 visitors. The festival was canceled this year due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2.
“With a deep sense of sadness and loss, we announce the passing of Mayor Lonnie Norman after being hospitalized for COVID-19 on October 1, 2020,” the city announced. “Mayor Norman passed away in the early hours of Monday, October 12, 2020, after a valiant fight against COVID-19.”
The mayor had been hospitalized on Oct. 1 for COVID-19, according to WSMV.
The Bonnaroo festival had sent condolences via Twitter on Oct. 10, wishing him a quick and speedy recovery.
Mayor Norman’s family said in a statement that his life was “filled with work that testifies to both his accomplishments and his values.”
Norman was a former a technician supervisor at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex for 40 years before entering public office in 1984. He was the first black mayor of Manchester in 1991.
“His friends and neighbors returned him to the Mayor’s office four times—an act of trust for which he was immensely grateful. In his numerous campaigns for public office, he never lost a political race. He loved his hometown and they loved him,” his family said.
“A new recreation complex, soccer field, improvements to countless parks, other infrastructure, and support for our beloved Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival were among his proudest accomplishments. He also fought hard against rural hospital closures, so all Coffee County citizens could access quality, affordable health care.”
The family said that Norman’s favorite quote was, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” They thanked the public and friends for their prayers, and asked that donations in lieu of flowers be sent to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital and/or Bonnaroo Works Fund.
Norman has four children and two grandchildren.
The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen issued a statement describing Norman as “a dedicated servant to the people of Manchester” and “kind, honest, and thoughtful.”
“In a world that seems to so easily divided, Mayor Norman brought us together. Mayor Norman understood the importance of compromise and honest debate. He guided our community with a strong and steady yet gentle hand with empathy and compassion,” they said.
Norman’s body was escorted to Central Funeral Home by Manchester police on Monday morning, reported WKRN. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
Vice Mayor Marilyn Howard will be appointed to fill Norman’s position, according to the Manchester Times.
Coffee County, where Manchester is located, has had 1,588 confirmed cases of the CCP virus, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. Of the cases, 284 are active cases, 1,287 are inactive or recovered, and 12 people have died.
The mayor’s family said in their statement, “COVID-19 is a real and it took our beloved Lonnie Norman from us.
“To his fellow public officials, we say please remember your duty to keep the public safe. To our fellow citizens, we say please wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and protect public health and each other.”