BRADENTON -- War hero. Community icon. True statesman.
Ed Price, always a humble, selfless man, might've blushed at the heartfelt tributes spoken about him Friday evening outside the Shannon Funeral Home on 14th Street West.
With a private family funeral today, nearly 300 people paid their respects at the wake of the former state senator, who died a week ago at the age of 94.
"There was a majesty about him," said Jesse Johnson, who remembered campaigning for Sen. Price as a little girl.
"Probably one of the most honorable statesman -- true statesman -- we'll ever know," said Bob Bartz, president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.
"A great humanitarian," said John Herzog, a fellow First Baptist Church congregant.
Inside the funeral home, Sen. Price, a bomber pilot during World War II, lay in repose in a closed coffin
covered by an American flag. The line of mourners was constant during the 2 1/2-hour viewing.
"Our family is grateful for the support," said Jerald Price, Sen. Price's son. "To hear what they said about him and to see people from different generations whose lives have been impacted by my father was so nice."
Circuit Court Judge Charles Williams was one of them.
"Ed Price was instrumental in getting me appointed on the bench (in 1998) and I'm eternally grateful to him," he said. "In our last conversation, I said the reason I work so hard is because of you. I could never disappoint him."
Both newly elected state Sen. Bill Galvano and state Rep. Jim Boyd spoke of Sen. Price's daunting legacy of service.
"I would hope to emulate the fact he always put the interest of the community, the state ... above his own personal agenda -- is what a true statesman is all about," Galvano said.
"He set the bar so high for the rest of us," Boyd said.
Rodney Potter remembers cutting Sen. Price's grass as boy.
"When I was growing up he was a man we all looked up to," said the former Manatee County Distinguished Citizen. "If you had to pick a person for a mentor, he'd be it. He was always there to help people and never wanted praise for it."
Sen. Price never deviated from that practice.
"We'll probably never know how many people Ed Price helped in Manatee County," said John McKay, a former state senate president.
Marianne Barnebey lamented the end of an era.
"They don't make them like him anymore," said the former Bradenton city councilwoman. "He'll be sorely missed."
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix