'Gainesville above everything': Former Gainesville Mayor David Flagg dead at 86

Former Gainesville Mayor David Flagg died Aug. 21 at age 86 after a lifetime serving the country and the people of Gainesville.

Flagg was a lover of nature, his wife Christina Flagg, 76, said. He spent much of his time paddling down Gainesville’s rivers, bicycling and running outside. His devotion to nature exceeded his own hobbies, as he made preserving natural resources one of the pillars of his political career.

While on the Gainesville City Commission, he passed ordinances that helped protect natural waterways from construction, and he served on the Suwannee River Management District board.

“When you’re from Gainesville you grow up with a love of our marvelous water resources,” Christina said.

Flagg, born at the Alachua General Hospital in 1937, grew up in Gainesville and attended Gainesville High School.

Flagg served on the Gainesville City Commission from 1985 to 1988 and in the Florida House from 1988 to 1992. He graduated from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications with a degree in advertising before joining the Army as an 82nd Airborne lieutenant.

After three years Flagg left the Army and lived in Charlotte and New York. He moved back to Gainesville shortly after and was elected to the city commission in 1985.

“He always said he wanted to be the mayor of Gainesville,” Christina said.

David Flagg
David Flagg

His time as mayor is best remembered by his connection to his colleagues and constituents, Christina said.

“I think he would say one of his greatest accomplishments was working with all the wonderful people that he's learned to love and know,” she said. “There's so many — John Mills, Rosa Williams, Tony Jones — so many wonderful people who deeply care about Gainesville.”

At home, Flagg was dedicated to his personal workout routine, historical novels, Christina’s banana bread, and his favorite food ice cream.

“He lived a good life and a long life,” she said. “He worked very hard trying to help people and loved Gainesville above everything.”

Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward took to social media to express condolences.

“I’m so sorry to learn of the passing of former Gainesville mayor-commissioner David Flagg. He was a model of public service and a complete gentleman in all of our many interactions. Always ready to offer advice and encouragement, whether we agreed on an issue or not,” said Ward.  “His memory is a blessing.”

Buddy Irby, former supervisor of elections for Gainesville, called Flagg a gentleman.

"[Flagg] was one of the finest men I have ever known. He was a true gentleman, loved his family and his community and was a great mentor to many of us in public service," he said. "It was an honor to have him as a friend."

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Former Gainesville Mayor David Flagg dead at 86