OBITUARY

Raymond Charles Sittig

April 8, 1929November 12, 2012
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Raymond C. Sittig 1929 - 2012

Raymond C. Sittig, longtime former executive director of the Florida League of Cities and a leading defender of local home rule in Florida, died Monday at age 83, after a lengthy illness. Sittig joined the Florida League of Cities in 1959 and spent 36 years with the organization, serving as its top executive for 25 years before his retirement in 1995.

"I'm saddened by the passing of Ray Sittig. I consider him to be a very good friend and a man of his word. You can't get much better of a guy than Ray," said former Florida Governor Reubin Askew. "Ray Sittig made an enormous contribution to the good government movement here in Florida. In particular, Ray gave the FLC the face of integrity in all of its dealings with state government, including the Legislature." Sittig became executive director of the Jacksonville-based Florida League of Municipalities in 1970, surpassing a long-time dream of helping residents of a single municipality by serving as a city manager. After taking the reins of the group, Sittig recommended changing the organization's name to the Florida League of Cities. On his watch, the League moved its headquarters from Jacksonville to Tallahassee to better represent cities before the Legislature and state agencies, and chartered counties became eligible for membership. As a cornerstone of his service, Sittig made promoting local government "home rule" and protecting cities from unfunded mandates priority issues. In 1989, Florida's Governor and Cabinet recognized Sittig for his service to the state's cities and commended him for championing the Home Rule Powers Act.

"Ray Sittig was a true hero to anyone who believes the best government is the one closest to the people," said former Governor Bob Martinez, who previously served as President of the Florida League of Cities. "During my tenure as mayor of Tampa and president of the League of Cities, and then as Governor, I worked closely with Ray and found him to be an invaluable source of information, an insightful guide on policy matters, and a true friend. Under his expert leadership, the Florida League of Cities emerged as a leading voice for local governments across our state and became a force to be reckoned with in the capital. Ray will be missed by all who knew him and the countless Floridians who benefited from his dedicated service." Sittig was known to his friends and coworkers as an outstanding writer and wonderful storyteller, well-read with a great sense of humor. "He was the first Renaissance man I ever met," said League General Counsel Chip Morrison.

Ray Sittig earned a reputation for unquestioned honesty and approached political issues from a perspective of what was best for Florida's cities, not what compromise would be easiest to reach. His underlying message to lawmakers, according to Morrison, was: "Give us the authority to fund our operations, and leave us alone." Sittig himself effectively summarized his philosophy of government when he once told an interviewer: "Citizens believe in their local decision-makers and want local decisions made right down the street, not hundreds of miles away in either Tallahassee or Washington, D.C."

"Ray will forever be remembered as the pioneer of home rule in our state and for his instrumental role in increasing the influence of Florida's cities on the state and national stage," said Florida League of Cities President Manny Maroño. "Thanks to Ray Sittig's work, local governments are the ones most trusted by Floridians to address many of the challenges we face." Under Sittig's leadership, the Florida League of Cities experienced significant growth and now serves 410 cities, villages and municipalities across the state. Ahead of most experts, Sittig recognized that many of Florida's small- to medium-sized local governments were unable to secure affordable workers' compensation insurance coverage. He led the Florida League of Cities to create its first insurance program to address that problem. The Florida Municipal Insurance Trust, a pooled trust program, has been a model for others in Florida and nationally, and is a foundation for the League's growth. Sittig retired from the League in the 1990s but continued to play a role in promoting municipal government.

Former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham said, "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Ray Sittig, a passionate and tireless voice for Florida's communities. The concept of home rule came to the forefront during my years as Governor, and that important idea had no more effective advocate than Ray. Policy set in Tallahassee and Washington is often applied at the local level, and I could always rely on Ray's leadership to make sure Florida's municipal leaders understood the opportunities those policies presented. Ray also became a personal friend and Adele and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Sittig family." Former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham said, "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Ray Sittig, a passionate and tireless voice for Florida's communities. The concept of home rule came to the forefront during my years as Governor, and that important idea had no more effective advocate than Ray. Policy set in Tallahassee and Washington is often applied at the local level, and I could always rely on Ray's leadership to make sure Florida's municipal leaders understood the opportunities those policies presented. Ray also became a personal friend and Adele and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Sittig family."

Raymond C. Sittig was born April 8, 1929, and was raised in Michigan as one of eight children. After serving in the Navy shortly after the end of World War II and during the Korean War, he attended Michigan State University. He initially planned to go to law school and enter politics, but eventually determined he would help people become more knowledgeable about their government by going into public administration. Sittig spent two and a half years as assistant city manager in Grand Rapids, Michigan, before applying for a position in Fernandina Beach. A former mayor of that city who was then executive director of the Florida League of Municipalities saw his application and urged him to come work with him at the League. Sittig said he didn't think he would be interested in the job because of his long-time desire to become a city manager so he could help people understand their city government.

When the executive pointed out that a position with the League meant Sittig could work for all cities at once, his decision was inescapable. Ray Sittig began work at the Florida League of Municipalities on February 1, 1959, and embarked on a lifetime of excellence in service to the diverse communities of Florida.

Sittig is survived by his wife of six decades, Betty, and their five sons and daughter, Michael (Marty), Mark (Kathy), William (Jill), Ronald, Dennis and Paula Gerry (John), as well as many beloved grandchildren and great-grandchild. Eldest son Michael is now executive director of the Florida League of Cities.

A memorial service for Raymond Sittig will be held on Friday, November 16, 2012, 5:00 p.m. at Culley's Meadowwood Funeral Home, 1737 Riggins Road, Tallahassee, Florida, 32303. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Big Bend Hospice, 1723 Mahan Center Boulevard, Tallahassee, Florida, 32308.

Services

  • Celebration of Life Friday, November 16, 2012
  • Memorial Recetion Friday, November 16, 2012
REMEMBERING

Raymond Charles Sittig

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RECEIVE UPDATES
Paula Sittig

January 24, 2013

thinking about you as always DAD.

Your daughter, Paula

Paula Sittig

January 24, 2013

Hey Dad. Just sitting here thinking about you. Mom and I are going to the beach Friday. Thinking about taking you with me. It was one of the few things you wanted to do before you died. Ashame we never had the option of getting you out of the hospital for one more golf cart ride and one last trip to the beach house. I MISS YOU SOOOO VERY MUCH EVERY DAY. When you were diagnosed and admitted to TMH, remember I told you, this was not about you anymore..... well it was!!! I was trying to get the 20+ years I was going to miss out on in before you were gone. I almost did!! Our time we spent together was so important to me and will always be cherished. I would give up everything to have you back - happy and healthy. I know you have my back up there. I know your playing your best round of golf with Uncle Bert and all of the other golf buddies. I LUV YOU SOOO MUCH AND MISS YOU HOURLY.

Your loving daughter,
Paula Sittig Gerry

Diane Harden

January 3, 2013

Mark, I was sorry to hear about your dad. I hope that you and your family are doing well.

Norma Corisdeo

November 25, 2012

Betty and family I was sadden to hear of Ray's death. I loved his wit he made me laugh many times.

November 21, 2012

Bill,

I am so sorry to hear about your dad. I know what you are going through, as I lost my mom a couple of months ago.
I will be praying for you and your family as you go through the upcoming holiday season.
Sounds like your dad was quite an outstanding and accomplished person.
Sincerely,

Ann Burgess

Briana

November 16, 2012

I am Truly sorry for your loss. May God give you the peace comfort and the strength you need to get through this time of loss.

Gale Sittig

November 16, 2012

We lost a true Statesman on Monday, Ray Sittig spent his career advocating for Florida municipal governments, he knew how to build consensus when it seemed impossible but more than that, he was a true friend to me and wonderful grandfather to Samantha, we miss you already......

Kathy Sexton

November 16, 2012

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Sittig family.

November 16, 2012

Betty, Mike, Mark, and all of the Sittig Family,
You have our deepest sympathy. Both Patti and I were honored by our friendship with Ray and all of you for the past 30 years. We will miss Ray and his stories and jokes. Don't know if there is Home Rule in Heaven, but there's going to be.
Love you all,
Paul and Patti Piller

November 16, 2012

Mike, Ms. Betty and family,
It was an honor to be an employee at the League for 8 years (1973-1981) working with Ray and the Florida Municipal Record. He will be greatly missed and my husband and I send our prayers to your family at this time.

Charles and Kathleen Barineau
Donalsonville, Georgia