JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Former Jonesboro Mayor Hubert Brodell has died, according to his daughter-in-law.
Brodell served the city as mayor for 18 years beginning in 1987.
During his tenure, he saw the city's size more than double following the 1987 annexation which he oversaw.
Brodell was also instrumental in developing the city's parks department and implementation of the 911 Center.
But after his retirement from public office, Brodell sought to do something few other mayors would have.
He went back to school and got his GED when he was 78 years old.
"If I can do it, anybody can," Brodell said. "Everything is an opportunity. Nothing is a problem."
Having only had an eighth-grade education before, former Mayor Brodell became an advocate for adult education.
"I decided then that when my time in office ended, I would dedicate the rest of my life to help literacy," Brodell said.
He worked to recruit volunteers to serve as tutors for the Literacy League of Craighead, Greene and Poinsett counties.
Mayor Brodell explained that school was difficult for him as a youngster. He was hard-of-hearing; so his teachers seated him on the front row in eighth grade.
But, high school presented new problems.
"I would have had to walk six or seven miles each way to go to high school," Brodell said.
It was in the middle of World War II. His brothers were gone and his mother had died.
"I was the only one left to help my Dad," Brodell said. So he never went to high school. He grew up, got married, started a family, moved away and eventually moved from the area.
He had several different jobs—including a successful career as an insurance salesman.
"Every day was a new day," said Brodell. "It was something different every day. Nothing was ever boring."
But, completing his education, even at an advanced age, made him sensitive to the needs of adults wanting to finish their education.
He traveled the state sharing his unique story of perseverance.
He was the keynote speaker for the Arkansas Bar Association in 2014 when they presented awards at their annual convention to students and teachers in adult learning programs.
Former Mayor Brodell was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Dorothy—but the Mayor referred to her affectionately as "Miss Beautiful." They are survived by their sons Hubie, Tony, Andy, Al, and Aaron; and their daughter, Julie; along with numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"I lost a dear friend today," said current Mayor Harold Perrin, who considered Brodell a mentor as well as a confidant. "A lot of the things I do as mayor, I learned from Hubert Brodell.
"I served as a city council member for 11 years, and I can truly say I don't know any elected official who loved Jonesboro more. His unwavering love for his family and Jonesboro were always an inspiration."
Dr. Chuck Welch, president of the ASU System said, "The Jonesboro of my childhood was shaped by the extraordinary efforts of Mayor Hubert Brodell. Our city and our university are better because of his service. He will be missed and our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
"Today many members of the university community who knew Hubert Brodell, former mayor of Jonesboro, are saddened by his passing. Mayor Brodell assembled a significant record of service during his four terms, which were highlighted by population growth, economic and industrial development, improved streets and highways, and enhanced safety and security services for our citizens. Arkansas State University joins with our partner, the City of Jonesboro, in offering our condolences to the family of one of our community's leading citizens," said Dr. Kelly Damphousse, A-State chancellor.
Hubert Brodell passed away Monday, at the age of 88, at Flo & Phil Hospice House in Jonesboro.
A rosary service will take place on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Emerson Chapel. A visitation will follow until 7 p.m.
The funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 614 South Church Street. Burial will follow in the Holy Cross Cemetery.
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