Ocala City Council President honored for 24 years of service

Ocala City Council President Mary S. Rich was honored by local business owners and dignitaries for her two dozen years of service to the community during Tuesday’s council meeting.

Rich, who was joined on stage by her daughter, granddaughter, and great grandson in addition to a collection of members from the community, was presented with a plaque and proclamation detailing the community’s thanks for her service in all aspects.

Rich is the longest-serving council member in the history of the Ocala City Council, having represented District 2 since 1995. She is the first African American woman sitting on the council in its 150-year history.

“Everything I’ve done, I’ve done from my heart. I love Ocala, I don’t just love west Ocala, I love Ocala,” said an emotional Rich.

During her storied career, Rich has been honored with numerous distinctions including the United Way’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2005, as well as distinguished service awards from the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency and Central Florida Community College.

Rich will end her career with the city this coming December, having seen the city change in dramatic ways over the course of her lifetime.

“Anybody that knows me will know that I have worked heartlessly for the city of Ocala. It’s where I was born, and it’s where I’m going to die. I just want everybody to know that I really appreciate what you all have done,” said Rich.

As part of the proclamation, the group requested that the city name a day in honor of Rich once a date is selected.