Former Palmetto Mayor Dole dies at 79

Gordon Dole, a former Palmetto mayor and a past Manatee County Fair board president, died Wednesday after a bout with cancer.

He was 79.

“He was always community spirited and loved Palmetto,” said current Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant.

Mr. Dole served as mayor from 1993 to 1995, spent two terms on the Palmetto City Council from 1976 to 1980, and was fair president in 2006 and 2007.

Bryant said she last saw Mr. Dole on Sunday at Riviera Palms Rehabilitation Center in Palmetto. She said they joked about him getting her into politics by spurring her run for city council in the early 1990s.

“He was good to work with when I was on city council and he was mayor,” Bryant said. “He was always good to kid you. He always had a lot of fun.”

Mr. Dole was born Feb. 10, 1932, in Bradenton, and was a lifelong Manatee resident.

He attended Manatee Community College, was a supervisor and customer service instructor with Florida Power and Light, and he also worked in the family lawn maintenance business.

He is survived by his wife of more than 61 years, Agnes, and children James, Sharon and John.

“Gordon was a great person that supported his community and supported the projects he worked with,” said Brian Williams, a Palmetto commissioner since 1992. “He was a family man that totally exemplified fathers, grandfathers, brothers -- he was that kind of a person.”

Mr. Dole, who lived in Palmetto since he was 17 years old, loved the fair, too, Bryant said.

In a January 1998 interview with the Herald, Dole said, “We used to live just across the street from the fair -- we’d watch it go up every year. It was much smaller, too. It was all fenced in and everyone parked along the side.”

Services for Mr. Dole are pending.

“He gave it his all,” Williams said. “I really enjoyed working with him.

“He’s going to be missed in the community by a lot of people.”

Brent Conklin, Night Metro Editor, can be reached at (941) 745-7011.