MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When asked what he wanted his legacy to be Maurice Ferré said without hesitation, “Love. Love for the people. We the people. We the people of Miami.”
The former six-term Miami mayor passed away Thursday at the age of 84 surrounded by family.
Ferré, widely considered the father of modern-day Miami, had been battling cancer for the past two years.
In February of 2019, a ceremony was held to name Museum Park after Ferré.
The 23-acre waterfront park stretches from the Perez Art Museum to the American Airlines Arena.
Ferré, who was battling cancer and had recently undergone chemotherapy, called it the greatest honor of his life.
“Things are named for people when others think they deserve it, so I am humbled by this.”
Miami’s political figures reacted to the news.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez released the following statement:
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of former Miami mayor and Miami-Dade County Commission Vice Chairman Maurice Ferre. Mayor Ferre was a mentor and friend. I am extremely grateful to have served under him. I was a young firefighter starting in the City of Miami when Mayor Ferre began his illustrious political career in Miami after having served as a legislator in Tallahassee. A statesman and visionary, Maurice left an incredible legacy for our community and helped create and nourish a new, diverse and dynamic Miami. In later years, he became an expert on several statewide issues, including transportation. I counted on his experience and wisdom on many topics, and I will sorely miss him.”
“Lourdes and I, along with our County residents, send our most heartfelt condolences to his family. We have lost a beloved husband, father and statesman.”
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez also released this statement on Ferré’s passing:
“It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of our dear friend and community leader, former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré. Mayor Ferre’ was a man of elegance, class, and grace. He was always prepared, inspiringly articulate, and never accepting of mediocrity. His qualities and character have inspired me and countless others to carry on his legacy of elevating Miami as a diverse, vibrant, and global world-class city. He will be dearly missed.”
US Congresswoman Donna Shalala said:
“Today, Miami lost a titan of public service. Maurice Ferré was an enterprising businessman and politician. He was a proud son of Puerto Rico whose leadership transformed Miami from a sleepy Southern city into the booming global metropolis it is today. Maurice was a longtime friend who could charm anyone with his expansive mind and brilliant wit.
“It was an honor to know and be counseled by Maurice in life. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Mercedes, their children and grandchildren. May he rest in peace.”
Ferré led Miami during tumultuous times and shaped the city’s future as an international banking center and gateway to Latin America.
“As mayor of Miami, I think I have done all these things are products of my imagination.”
Ferré served as mayor from 1972 until 1985. He later served on the Miami-Dade commission and expressway authority.
Early on in his career, he served in the state legislature but he left his permanent mark on Miami
“He’s a great man. He did a lot for all of us and the city we see around us is largely his conception,” said T.D. Allman, author of Miami: City of the Future.
Allman credits Ferré with shaping Miami into the city of the future.
“He understood that all that people criticize about Miami is what makes Miami great, it’s diversity, it’s not a paradise it’s a dynamic city.”
Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Ferré was a University of Miami graduate before he served in the Florida Legislature from 1966-67.
He served first as a Miami commissioner before becoming the Mayor in 1973.
Ferré led the city through enormous growth and change during the 1970s and 1980s.
After leaving office, Ferré remained active government and civil affairs.
Funeral services are pending.