OBITUARY

Jake M. Godbold

March 14, 1933January 23, 2020

Jake is Brentwood. Her hardscrabble city history. The home she provides the people dreaming of better days. Toby’s, Cotton’s and Jackie’s, and a cluttered conference room court inside Gateway Chemicals where city politicians and old pals talked about fishing, football and hunting while planning ways to make a better Jacksonville.

Jake is Westside. Her sturdy blue-collar work ethic and proud heritage of military service. Hunting and fishing at J.B. Coxwell's Thousand Oaks with lifelong friends. Vastly different, but able to sit alongside the business, civic and cultural leaders and work to improve the city.

Jake is Southside. A bustling, bold, business-minded salesman. Always building partnerships and reaching for greater things. Southpoint, J. Turner Butler Blvd., and Mayo Clinic. Listening to entrepreneurs with big ideas, then lean in, put his hand firmly on your arm and refuse to take "no" for an answer.

Jake is Downtown. Her menagerie of politics, commerce and culture. Inspiring venues for sport and spirituality. The iconic representation of our city, reaching out across the shimmering St. Johns River he loved to unite all of Jacksonville’s diverse communities.

It’s often been said that Jake is Jacksonville.

In reality, Jake just personified all those things that collectively make our city what it is: its love, its kindness, its heart, its passion and its people.

Former two-term Jacksonville Mayor Jake Maurice Godbold passed away January 23rd at the age of 86. Jake – along with his siblings Fay, Charlene and Len – were born during the Great Depression and raised on Jacksonville’s Northside by his parents, Charles and Irene Godbold. Jake served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict and was elected to serve on the Jacksonville City Council from 1967 until 1979, serving twice as council president. He was also elected twice to serve as Jacksonville’s mayor from 1979 until 1987.

During his two decades of elected public service, Jake led an unprecedented transformation of Jacksonville by championing major projects that included building the Jacksonville Landing, reviving the old Union Terminal into the Prime Osborne Convention Center, sparking and fostering Jacksonville’s successful pursuit of an NFL franchise, launching the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, saving and restoring the Florida Theatre, attracting Mayo Clinic to locate here, and building the Southbank Riverwalk among many, many others.

Despite his incredible list of capital construction achievements as mayor, Jake will likely be most remembered as a champion for Jacksonville’s people, particularly its seniors and minorities. As Jake nervously prepared for one his first important campaign speeches, close friend Lou Frost told him, “These are your people. They belong to you.” It was a message Jake said guided his constant focus on the people he represented during his public service career.

Jake’s biographer and longtime friend Mike Tolbert wrote that he had a lifelong affinity for underdogs and the underprivileged. Having grown up in a Northside public housing project, and begun his career selling insurance in that area, the trust and bond that Jake enjoyed with Jacksonville’s minority community was an essential part of his public and private character. The first election he won was to represent the blue collar and minority neighborhoods of Panama Park and North Shore. As mayor, Jake pushed and passed the city’s first minority business set-aside program despite tremendous pressure from his many including some of his close friends and supporters.

His passion for helping the elderly shone famously in the time and energy he dedicated to his Mayor’s Older Buddies (M.O.B.) program, as well as his administration’s support for the city’s senior centers.

Near the end of his public service, Godbold told a gathering of supporters that he wanted to be remembered not for capital projects, but rather for his compassion, and contributions he made to the human spirit. “I want to be remembered for my ability to bring together Jews and Arabs, blacks and whites, the elderly and the young,” he said.

That sentiment traces back to a trip Jake took to Washington D.C. early in his first term as mayor. There he visited the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Walking in, Jake paused to read an inscription on the wall outside the Grand Foyer. He wrote down the quote and on returning home he put it in a frame on his desk. He often repeated the Kennedy quote throughout his life, and asked that when he’s laid to rest, the words be carved on his headstone.

“I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities we, too, will be remembered not for the victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”

Jake M. Godbold was also the loving patriarch to his family. He is predeceased by his father Charles Benjamin Godbold II, mother Irene Godbold, and wife Jean Jenkins Godbold. He’s survived by his son Charles Benjamin “Ben” Godbold III, granddaughters Morgan Godbold, Matilda Godbold and their mother Elizabeth “Beth” Wiggins. Sisters Fay Parker (Jim), Charlene Cunard-Lynn (James Hap) and brother Len Godbold (Becky) and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

A public Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, February 20th, 2020 at 10 a.m. at the Prime F. Osborn Convention Center as a tribute to his service and contributions to our city.

In lieu of flowers, Jake’s family ask that contributions be made to two local charities he cared for deeply: Toys for Tots and Hubbard House.

Services

  • Public Visitation Thursday, February 20, 2020
  • Celebration of Life Thursday, February 20, 2020

Memories

Jake M. Godbold

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY
Peter Bragan

February 21, 2020

Jake drank co-cola. Not Coca-Cola, like the company spells it, but co-cola, the same way a lot of us down here say it.
Like the drink, he was a true product of the South. A one-of-a-kind who was never at a loss for words. He loved coming to a Suns game and more, he loved having great seats - for free of course. At Wolfson Park Daddy and Jake both loved to watch the game while enjoying a cigar.
I hope they are smoking together again!

Donna Harris

February 21, 2020

To a wonderful mayor and wonderful person .. you will be truly missed.
RIP SIR 🕊🕊🕊🕊🕊🇺🇸🇺🇸

Robert Walters

February 20, 2020

Since it was mayor godbold that started the seniors fish a thone & since he had such a great love for Seniors ,& we had a great love for the mayor I think the very fitting perfect honor for mayor godbold be be to name the Jake godbold seniors fish a thone .I think that would be a great honor for him that he'd really enjoy " the Jake godbold seniors fish a thone" even has a nice sound to it.

Numa Saisselin

February 20, 2020

In 1980, Jake was instrumental in helping a committee of concerned citizens to acquire the historic Florida Theatre from its private owners, and turn it into a nonprofit performing arts center for the whole city. Today, saving the downtown historic theatre is a common economic development tactic. In the late 70's, however, Jake and his compatriots were on the cutting edge of a new idea. In 2013 we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Florida Theatre's re-opening with the principals of that effort, including Jake, and we will forever be in his debt. Jake, you will be missed, but your memory lives on through your many good works.

Patsy Graham

February 19, 2020

Jake , I will miss our phone calls and chats we had 2 times a week. And I will never forget all the good things you done for me . You Will always have a special place in my heart ❤️. With great love Rest In Peace my dear friend. I will be praying for comfort and peace For the family and love ones you have left behind.

Robert Walters

February 19, 2020

I have so many good memories of mayor godbold even tho not in the best of health coming to Mary singleton senior center bringing ice cream & cake & bringing use president dollars for us ,thank you mayor godbold & it will be an honor for me to be at you're service tomarrow Robert l Walters.

Ernest Jenkins

February 18, 2020

I remember i was a young kid about 10 years old or so, i was at a Jacksonville Suns game at Wolfson Park with my Grandparents. I remember them telling me he was the Mayor and i waved at him, he motioned me over along with my granddad and he carried on talking to me and autographed something for me. I thought that was the coolest thing ever as a kid, im almost 50 now and have never forgotten that. Later in life i had the pleasure of meeting him again and after all that time i found that he had not changed, which i respected him so much more for. He was a down to earth man, at that second meeting i was able to share that story with him about me as a kid meeting him and he chuckled as did i, from the first meeting
on i remember having a true love for baseball and our Jacksonville Suns!

He was a good man and true Mayor for the people of Jacksonville and he will be missed, and i for one will never forget him!

Nancy Mortimer

February 18, 2020

Jake, you were an awesome Mayor, Man and Friend - the "Boney Road Gang" will sure miss you. Prayers to your family and many friends.

Mary Taylor

February 17, 2020

We all loved Jake Godbold. We loved that he would speak out for the good of the people. The people respected him and all know how influential he was in the progress of this city. When he came in the bbq, people would stop at his table to say hello and pay their respects to him and he always had time for them. He was a man that commanded respect. I liked that about him, he was one of a kind, definitely a legend.

Mindy Stearns

February 17, 2020

Oh my goodness the list is long. From challenging me to lay off some of the sugar in my greens to adding more juice in my limas at Toby's bbq. yup I listened. Who wouldn't. That he took the time with me to add his suggestions ment the world to. Coming thru the drive ,I would always send a meat patty for his sidekick. Jakey I'll never forget you. Scouts honor. 🐕

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Jake is Brentwood. Her hardscrabble city history. The home she provides the people dreaming of better days. Toby’s, Cotton’s and Jackie’s, and a cluttered conference room court inside Gateway Chemicals where city politicians and old pals talked about fishing, football and hunting while planning ways to make a better Jacksonville.

Jake is Westside. Her sturdy blue-collar work ethic and proud heritage of military service. Hunting and fishing at J.B. Coxwell's Thousand Oaks with lifelong friends. Vastly different, but able to sit alongside the business, civic and cultural leaders and work to improve the city.

Jake is Southside. A bustling, bold, business-minded salesman. Always building partnerships and reaching for greater things. Southpoint, J. Turner Butler Blvd., and Mayo Clinic. Listening to entrepreneurs with big ideas, then lean in, put his hand firmly on your arm and refuse to take "no" for an answer.

Jake is Downtown. Her menagerie of politics, commerce and culture. Inspiring venues for sport and spirituality. The iconic representation of our city, reaching out across the shimmering St. Johns River he loved to unite all of Jacksonville’s diverse communities.

It’s often been said that Jake is Jacksonville.

In reality, Jake just personified all those things that collectively make our city what it is: its love, its kindness, its heart, its passion and its people.

Former two-term Jacksonville Mayor Jake Maurice Godbold passed away January 23rd at the age of 86. Jake – along with his siblings Fay, Charlene and Len – were born during the Great Depression and raised on Jacksonville’s Northside by his parents, Charles and Irene Godbold. Jake served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict and was elected to serve on the Jacksonville City Council from 1967 until 1979, serving twice as council president. He was also elected twice to serve as Jacksonville’s mayor from 1979 until 1987.

During his two decades of elected public service, Jake led an unprecedented transformation of Jacksonville by championing major projects that included building the Jacksonville Landing, reviving the old Union Terminal into the Prime Osborne Convention Center, sparking and fostering Jacksonville’s successful pursuit of an NFL franchise, launching the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, saving and restoring the Florida Theatre, attracting Mayo Clinic to locate here, and building the Southbank Riverwalk among many, many others.

Despite his incredible list of capital construction achievements as mayor, Jake will likely be most remembered as a champion for Jacksonville’s people, particularly its seniors and minorities. As Jake nervously prepared for one his first important campaign speeches, close friend Lou Frost told him, “These are your people. They belong to you.” It was a message Jake said guided his constant focus on the people he represented during his public service career.

Jake’s biographer and longtime friend Mike Tolbert wrote that he had a lifelong affinity for underdogs and the underprivileged. Having grown up in a Northside public housing project, and begun his career selling insurance in that area, the trust and bond that Jake enjoyed with Jacksonville’s minority community was an essential part of his public and private character. The first election he won was to represent the blue collar and minority neighborhoods of Panama Park and North Shore. As mayor, Jake pushed and passed the city’s first minority business set-aside program despite tremendous pressure from his many including some of his close friends and supporters.

His passion for helping the elderly shone famously in the time and energy he dedicated to his Mayor’s Older Buddies (M.O.B.) program, as well as his administration’s support for the city’s senior centers.

Near the end of his public service, Godbold told a gathering of supporters that he wanted to be remembered not for capital projects, but rather for his compassion, and contributions he made to the human spirit. “I want to be remembered for my ability to bring together Jews and Arabs, blacks and whites, the elderly and the young,” he said.

That sentiment traces back to a trip Jake took to Washington D.C. early in his first term as mayor. There he visited the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Walking in, Jake paused to read an inscription on the wall outside the Grand Foyer. He wrote down the quote and on returning home he put it in a frame on his desk. He often repeated the Kennedy quote throughout his life, and asked that when he’s laid to rest, the words be carved on his headstone.

“I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities we, too, will be remembered not for the victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”

Jake M. Godbold was also the loving patriarch to his family. He is predeceased by his father Charles Benjamin Godbold II, mother Irene Godbold, and wife Jean Jenkins Godbold. He’s survived by his son Charles Benjamin “Ben” Godbold III, granddaughters Morgan Godbold, Matilda Godbold and their mother Elizabeth “Beth” Wiggins. Sisters Fay Parker (Jim), Charlene Cunard-Lynn (James Hap) and brother Len Godbold (Becky) and many nieces, nephews and cousins.


A public Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, February 20th, 2020 at 10 a.m. at the Prime F. Osborn Convention Center as a tribute to his service and contributions to our city.
In lieu of flowers, Jake’s family ask that contributions be made to two local charities he cared for deeply: Toys for Tots and Hubbard House.