January 25, 2020
Final farewell: South Florida honors former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre

Elected officials and the community have gathered for a final farewell to late former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré after he died a week ago at the age of 84.

Known as the father of the modern day Miami, Ferré was the first Hispanic mayor in the city’s history.

Thursday, the city honored his life and legacy after he lost his battle to cancer.

A memorial service began early Thursday morning outside of Miami City Hall.

“How do you encapsulate someone larger than life?” asked current Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “From the way that he dressed to the way that he carried himself, he was the closest thing to royalty this city has known.”

7News cameras captured a stage set up in front of the building as final touches were made.

A funeral and mass followed the service at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Miami.

“He was the founder of modern Miami and so he leaves behind a legacy of a life well lived,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who presided over the mass.

“It especially warms the hearts of the family to see the outpouring of support and love from all that he’s touched and served and worked with,” family spokesperson Manny Alfonso said.

“It is evident here today that your family shared Maurice with our city throughout practically his entire adult life,” said Suarez.

Ferré was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1935.

A proud graduate of the University of Miami, he knew his purpose after taking the path of politics.

After college, Ferré first served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1967 to 1968.

In 1973, he became Miami’s first Hispanic mayor and the country’s first Puerto Rican mayor — an office he held for 12 years. 

“He was the person that convinced the establishment and the people of the ’70s and the late ’60s that we were supposed to be an inclusive city,” former Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said.

From Brickell to Bayside, Ferré helped shape the Magic City, setting it on a path to become what he envisioned: a truly international city.

“What I’m doing in Miami, the effort and time and energy and sacrifice that it required, I wouldn’t do anywhere else,” Ferré said.

Ferré inspired generations.

Suarez said, “For me, as the new mayor of Miami, as someone from another generation, I stand on the shoulders of people like Mayor Ferré.”

Even after leaving office, he was always working to make South Florida a better place.

With his wife Mercedes by his side, Ferré continued to serve the community for decades.

“For me, Maurice Ferré was the ultimate visionary,” said former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas. “He was a man who knew that you had to govern today but always with an eye with what was gonna happen 10, 15, 20 years down the road.”

In January, the city’s former mayors came together to honor Ferré, dedicating a park to honor his legacy of giving back to the people and place he loved so much.

Maurice A. Ferré Park is located beside the Frost Museum of Science in downtown Miami.

“I want my legacy to be the love of Miami,” Ferré said at a Jan. 31 ceremony. “I want this to be for all the people of Miami.”