Hans Tanzler Obituary

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In Memory of

Hans G. Tanzler Jr.

March 11, 1927 - July 25, 2013
Obituary

Hans Tanzler Jr., native son and first mayor of the consolidated city of Jacksonville, friend of the St. Johns River, military veteran, athlete, sailor and judge, died July 25. He was 86. Hans was born on March 11, 1927, and attended West Riverside Elementary School, John Gorrie Junior High School, Robert E. Lee High School, and then graduated from the University of Florida in 1949. In 1951, he received a Doctorate of Law. While at the University of Florida, he was elected to the Florida Blue Key Honorary leadership Society and was vice president of the graduating class. A gifted athlete, Hans received an athletic scholarship to play...


Hans Tanzler Jr., native son and first mayor of the consolidated city of Jacksonville, friend of the St. Johns River, military veteran, athlete, sailor and judge, died July 25. He was 86.



Hans was born on March 11, 1927, and attended West Riverside Elementary School, John Gorrie Junior High School, Robert E. Lee High School, and then graduated from the University of Florida in 1949. In 1951, he received a Doctorate of Law. While at the University of Florida, he was elected to the Florida Blue Key Honorary leadership Society and was vice president of the graduating class. A gifted athlete, Hans received an athletic scholarship to play football while also playing four years of basketball, establishing all-time records in every category, as well as All Conference honors. In 1985, he was elected to the University Athletic Hall of Fame.



Hans served in active duty in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was recalled to active duty in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, serving as Air Intelligence Officer for Patrol Squadron 741.



Hans practiced law for 10 years in Jacksonville, served five years as assistant state attorney, was named general counsel for the Florida State Board of Health in 1961 and was appointed Judge of the Criminal Court of Record by Gov. Farris Byant. It was during his years as a judge that he earned one of his monikers, “father time,” for the long prison sentences he frequently handed down.



Hans’ love for his hometown and anguish for the corruption that had consumed Jacksonville by the mid-1960s prompted him to leave his seat as a judge to run for mayor. In 1967, he became the mayor of a new, consolidated Jacksonville and led a tireless effort to transform the city into one of the most progressive, efficient and beautiful cities in the country. After cleaning up city hall, he led the old Jacksonville — a consolidation of the city and county governments into a new form of local government — into a new era. Under his leadership, city services were expanded, cultural art offerings were improved, infrastructure was upgraded, downtown was revitalized and skyscrapers rose.

 



Hans was also a tireless advocate of the St. Johns River. Of all of his accomplishments, many remember him best for a photo depicting him waterskiing across the St. Johns River with the Cypress Gardens girls. His creative stunt celebrated his success in establishing a new sewer system with a bond issuance.

 



Despite his tireless devotion to public service, he still found time for outside hobbies. He was an avid sportsman and longtime member of the Safari International Club, a gifted artist and harmonica player.



Hans was a visionary, and despite his devotion to the people and city of Jacksonville, he sought to make an even larger impact on Floridians. In 1979, he resigned as mayor to run for governor of Florida. Outspent by more than a million dollars, he lost the election to Gov. Bob Graham, but nevertheless defeated Lt. Gov. Jim Williams, Sec. of State Bruce Smathers and former Gov. Claude Kirk in that same race.



Upon returning to private life, he served as chairman of the first Jacksonville-Duval County Housing Finance Authority and was president of the Board of Directors of Christian Television of Jacksonville, Inc.



Hans lived a remarkable life and affected countless people — loved ones and strangers — in infinite ways. The city of Jacksonville is a better place because of him.



Hans was preceded in death by his wife La Mercedes Tanzler and was formerly married to Ann Lyerly. He is survived by his son Hans Gerhardt Tanzler III (Deborah Tanzler), granddaughter Emily Durrett Tanzler, and grandson Hans Gerhardt Tanzler IV. A funeral service will be held Saturday, July 27, 11 a.m., at St. Johns Cathedral, 256 E. Church St., in Jacksonville. Burial services will be held at Oak Lawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Salvation Army of Jacksonville, 15 E. Church Street, 32202.



 



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Florida Times-Union
TANZLER Hans Tanzler Jr., native son and first mayor of the consolidated city of Jacksonville, friend of the St. Johns River, military veteran,...

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