VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Longtime Virginia Beach City council member and former mayor Louis Jones died Saturday.
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer confirmed with 13News Now that Jones passed away on June 18.
Jones was first elected in 1982, according to the city's website. Jones served as mayor in 1982 to 1984, and again in 2018.
He represented the Bayside District for more than 35 years, and he was a chairman for several groups, including the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Jones also owned Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home, Inc. and the Tidewater Cemetery Corporation.
“If you look for a father figure for the city, it’s Louis Jones,” said Delegate Glenn Davis.
Davis said many people will remember the decades of work Jones put into transforming Virginia Beach.
"Louis was one of the leaders that fought back and made sure that we fought for our families to stay here and the base to stay here," Davis said. "When we look at this gorgeous Town Center, this project was one that Louis had the vision with a few others to make sure it came to fruition.”
Davis said he'll remember Jones as a mentor and friend. He saw Davis for the last time Saturday morning at a dedication event, naming the Thalia Emergency Medical Station after the city's former Vice Mayor Jim Wood. Davis said Jones still had that upbeat attitude.
"Louis was Louis," he said. "I mean he had tons of energy, impeccably dressed. I joked with him that he looked as young as he did when I was on council with him.”
After that event, Davis said Jones went out campaigning in the community.
Before Jones died, he knocked on doors to get signatures to seek another term on city council, according to Davis.
Jones’ passing comes as a surprise to those who knew him.
"A total shock because he never looked better,” said Virginia Beach City council member Barbara Henley.
Henley said Jones was a rock for all city council members.
"Just a very fine person to work with, always very level-headed," she said. "We depended on him a lot to always give us guidance.”
In a statement, Mayor Bobby Dyer said in part:
"Louis was a true leader, working and leading organizations throughout Hampton Roads...His dedication to Virginia Beach and the Bayside District was limitless. Because of his belief in what he did and his graciousness when working with anyone and everyone, we are a far, far better city. I will miss him more than I can say."
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander also released a statement Saturday night. He wrote:
“Louis Jones was an extraordinary businessman and public servant. I considered him a mentor, confidant and dear friend. May his memory, loyalty and dedication continue to be a blessing to his family, friends and the City of Virginia Beach.”
This is a developing story.