Former Florida Lt. Gov. and Gov. Wayne Mixson died Wednesday morning in Tallahassee. He was 98.
Mixson served as Lt. Gov alongside Gov. Bob Graham for two terms, first in 1978 and then in 1982. Notably, Mixson also served as Governor Florida’s 39th Governor for three days in 1987 after Graham was elected to the U.S. Senate and stepped down as Governor before the end of his term.
“By an unprecedented twist of fate, Lt. Governor Mixson assumed the office of the governor of Florida for three days,” biographical information on the Florida governor’s mansion website said. “Upon vacating his office to assume the duties as a United States senator, Governor Graham triggered the short-lived ascendancy of his lieutenant governor into office as Florida’s 39th governor.”
The biographical information added, “His proudest achievement, spoken in characteristic good humor, was: ‘I wanted to be known as the governor who did the least damage to Florida.’”
He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Margie Mixson. Among his extended family members are great-nephew Jason Shoaf, a Port St. Joe Republican who was elected last year to represent a large swath of North Florida in the House.
“Mrs. Margie Mixson requests your prayers after the passing of her husband, former Gov. Wayne Mixson,” the family said in a statement. “Gov. Mixson died peacefully on the morning of Wednesday, July 8, surrounded by his wife and loved ones, at home in Tallahassee. He was 98.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis issued a statement Wednesday, recognizing Mixson’s commitment to public service.
“First Lady Casey DeSantis & I mourn the loss of Wayne Mixson, a WW2 veteran who served as Lt. Governor and Governor of Florida & was appointed U.S. Ambassador under President Jimmy Carter,” DeSantis said. “We extend our condolences to his family as our state and country celebrate his legacy.”
.@FLCaseyDeSantis & I mourn the loss of Wayne Mixson, a WWII veteran who served as Lt. Governor and Governor of Florida & was appointed U.S. Ambassador under President Jimmy Carter. We extend our condolences to his family as our state and country celebrate his legacy.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 8, 2020
Mixson served in the Florida House before becoming lieutenant governor and state commerce secretary under Graham. President Jimmy Carter appointed Mixson as a special ambassador to Ecuador in 1979.
“Governor Mixson dedicated his life to serving his community, his state and his country,” Mixson’s family said in a statement. “Guided by his conscience and a love for the Sunshine State, he served Florida with great honor.”
Mixson was born in 1922 in New Brockton, Ala., and served in the Navy during World War II before graduating from the University of Florida.
He was inducted in 1996 into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame, which described on its website his deep involvement in farming and rural issues.
“Gov. Wayne Mixson’s leadership ability was recognized early, and as president of his local county Farm Bureau, he worked tirelessly to get telephones installed in rural areas and to eradicate hog cholera from Florida,” the hall of fame website said. “Mixson’s career as a statesman began with his election to the Florida House of Representatives in 1967. As chairman of the House Agriculture Committee for eight years, he passed hundreds of measures affecting every segment of agriculture.”
The announcement of his death Wednesday said Mixson’s family will hold a private gathering.
Content from the News Service of Florida was used in this story.