Former Fla. Gov. Reubin Askew was remembered in his hometown of Pensacola on Thursday as a man who rose to the top of Florida politics but never forgot his small-town roots.
The two-term governor (1971-79) and former presidential candidate died March 13 at age 85.
Among those who filed past his flag-draped casket on display at the city's First Presbyterian Church, which Askew once attended, was Barbara Wenner. She carried an "Askew For President" campaign sign that she had kept since Askew's failed bid for the 1984 Democratic nomination. Wenner attended church with the Askews and watched him rise from Pensacola to Tallahassee.
"He was handsome and personable and just an outstanding man," she said.
Former U.S. Rep. Earl Hutto knew Askew at the beginning of his career when Askew was a young lawyer and Hutto was a Pensacola businessman. The two maintained their friendship through the decades, Hutto said.
"He was a great citizen. He would stand strong in whatever he believed," Hutto said. Askew was skilled at getting people on different sides of various issues to come together for the common good, he said.
His legacy includes integrating the Florida Highway Patrol, appointing the first black in 100 years to the Florida Cabinet and naming the first black Supreme Court justice.
Askew, who will be buried Friday morning in Pensacola, was also known for making the state's government more accessible and ethical.
Senior Federal Judge William Stafford worked at the same Pensacola law firm as Askew. Despite his rise to Tallahassee and beyond, Askew never forgot his small-town roots, Stafford said.
"I think he was a breath of fresh air in Tallahassee because he came from a small town," Stafford said.