Longtime mayor of the Tennessee city that hosts Bonnaroo dies of Covid-19

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Manchester Mayor Lonnie Norman passed away on Monday morning after being hospitalized for Covid-19 on October 1, the city announced on Facebook.
“It is said that when your work speaks for itself — let it,” his family said in a statement. “Mayor Lonnie Norman’s eight decades on this planet were filled with work that testifies to both his accomplishments and his values.”

His family counted a new recreation complex, a soccer field, improvements to parks and infrastructure and advocacy for rural hospitals among his many achievements.

One of his proudest accomplishments was his role as a friend and supporter of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which began in 2002 and is now one of the most popular summer music festivals in the nation.

Tens of thousands of people flock to the town of about 11,000 each year for four days of concerts and camping on a 700-acre farm. This year’s festival was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and new dates have been set for September 2021.

“Our condolences and thoughts go out to his family, friends, and residents of Manchester, who lost a neighbor and dedicated community leader,” Bonnaroo tweeted on Monday.

Norman’s family asked for donations to the Bonnaroo Works Fund, the festival’s charitable arm, and the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in lieu of flowers, a sign of his dedication to the community.

Never lost a political race

Norman spent four decades with the Arnold Engineering Development Complex, before entering public office in 1984.

In 1991, he became Manchester’s first Black mayor. He would be elected four times, his family said, holding the position from 1991 to 1995 and again since 2012.
An official portrait of Lonnie Norman, the first Black mayor of Manchester, Tennessee, where the Bonnaroo festival is held.
His current term was set to expire in 2024.

“In his numerous campaigns for public office, he never lost a political race,” his family said. “He loved his hometown and they loved him.”

His family urged the public to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously.

“COVID-19 is … 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,” they added.

“To our fellow citizens, we say please wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and protect public health and each other. We are all in this together.”

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