Fred Cavanaugh (Source: City of Aiken)

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Former mayor of Aiken, Fred Cavanaugh, died Wednesday night at his home.

Cavanaugh held the office of mayor for 24 years replacing Aiken’s first mayor Odell Weeks. He was first elected to City Council in 1985 before serving as mayor pro-tempore and being elected as mayor in 1991. He retired in 2015.

Cavanaugh’s successor and current Mayor Rick Osbon released a statement on Cavanaugh’s passing:

“Aiken has lost a friend and a champion in Mayor Fred Cavanaugh. The impact the Mayor had on our City will be recognized for generations to come. His leadership and ability to bring people together made him a special person. He was a kind and quiet leader whose words carried much weight and were respected by all. His legacy will forever be remembered through the Character First initiative and Aiken’s recognition as an All-America City.”

Statue of Fred Cavanaugh (Source: City of Aiken)

Osbon continued, “He was a mentor to me, and I will always be grateful for his friendship. The City of Aiken mourns his loss and sends condolences and prayers to the Cavanaugh family.”

The city noted that in addition to Cavanaugh’s Character First Initiative, being designated as an All-America City in 1997, and receiving the highest award from the South Carolina Municipal Association in 2000; Cavanaugh was recognized for his leadership in neighborhood revitalization and for no increase in the tax millage rate during his tenure as Mayor.

Councilperson Lessie Price had a close relationship with Cavanaugh during their time working together, and also released a statement on his passing:

“I served with Mayor Cavanaugh for 28 years and never had an unpleasant moment with him. I also worked with him at Savannah River Site and he transferred his integrity from the workplace to governing. We made many strides under his leadership. With his advocacy for the Capital Projects Sales Tax and the Hospitality Tax, our community saw many improvements to our quality of life. He was also a champion for improvements to the entire City, including the Northside and the potential of our Aiken Regional Airport. Mayor Cavanaugh was a person of vision and it was reflected in the many innovations and recognitions with multiple Municipal Achievement Awards. On a personal note, he was close to my family and regularly asked about my children. He was a God-fearing man whose legacy will continue to live on.”

Cavanaugh moved to Aiken from Richmond, Va. in 1953. He graduated from Virginia Military Institute and spent three years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force before returning to Aiken, where he worked at the Savannah River Site for DuPont and Westinghouse. In addition to being Mayor, he held the role of president of the South Carolina Municipal Association from 2007 to 2008. He is survived by his wife Lee, and two sons, Alex and Brian.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by George Funeral Home and will be announced later.