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Former Mayor David C. Rigsby dies at the age of 69

David C. Rigsby, who served more than 20 years in elected office for the City of DeLand and is credited with helping revitalize the city’s award-winning downtown, died on Sunday. He was 69 years old.

May 14, 2020

David C. Rigsby, who served more than 20 years in elected office for the City of DeLand and is credited with helping revitalize the city’s award-winning downtown, died on Sunday. He was 69 years old.

Mayor Robert F. Apgar, who served with Rigsby on the City Commission, expressed his condolences for Rigsby’s family and friends.

“Our community has lost an impassioned leader and avid supporter of the City of DeLand,” Apgar said. “I had the honor and privilege of serving alongside Dave for 13 of the years he was in office. He served this community with grace, distinction and integrity. He was a good friend and always supportive of me. I will really miss him.”

Born in Bainbridge, Georgia, he received his Bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture with special studies in urban design from the University of Florida.

After graduation, Rigsby was hired in December 1974 as the City of DeLand’s Superintendent of Parks and Urban Beautification before he was hired away by Stetson University in 1978. He retired in January as manager for Stetson Grounds and senior assistant for Special Projects after 42 years with the university. Under his leadership the immaculate grounds at Stetson won numerous accolades including in 2018 when the university was named among the 25 Most Beautiful College Campuses in the South by Country Living magazine.

“My husband, Richard, and I tremendously respected and admired Dave and his 42 years of leadership at Stetson,” said Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby, PhD. “He was a remarkably creative, talented, and civic-minded man. I was so thankful that he and his team had an opportunity to put into action Dave’s vision for the transformation of the Stetson University campus; no doubt, he deserves the lion’s share of any praise for the stunning beauty of our campus.”

While continuing his work at Stetson, Rigsby would be drawn back to the City of DeLand – this time as an elected leader – serving on the City Commission from 1980 to 1993 and Mayor from 1993 to 2001. Additionally, Rigsby was President of the League of Cities from 1998 to 1999. Rigsby was also the recipient of the E. Drew Harris Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor given annually by the Florida League of Cities.

During his tenure in elected office, Rigsby helped the city in its efforts to revitalize Downtown DeLand, which led to the creation of the MainStreet DeLand Association in 1985 and the city’s downtown district being recognized as one of the best main streets in America. He also spearheaded an effort to have homes and neighborhoods in the northwest section of the city be recognized as being in a Historic District.

DeLand’s Public Services Director Keith Riger credited Rigsby as being “the Father of the urban forest” at Stetson University and recalled a number of projects that the former mayor was involved in including improvements to the Chisholm Community Center, the Downtown DeLand Streetscape and the eventual build-out of the Municipal Complex – housing City Hall, DeLand Fire Station No. 81 and the DeLand Police Department – which bears his name.

“He’s done a lot for DeLand and he will be missed,” Riger said.

In honor of Rigsby, the city will lower the city flags to half-staff this evening and a memorial wreath has been placed by the David C. Rigsby Municipal Complex sign in his honor.

Rigsby leaves behind his wife Kate, three grown children Jennifer, Josh and John David and step-children Jessica, Will and Dorie. He was also the father-in-law for current City Commissioner Kevin Reid.

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