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Funeral arrangements announced for former mayor Larry Langford

By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

The funeral for former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford will be held on Monday, January 14 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Fairfield.

There will be a public viewing at Bill Harris Arena at the CrossPlex on Sunday, January 13th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the funeral mass will be the following Monday at noon.

Langford died Tuesday, January 8. He was 72. His death comes a little more than a week after he was given a compassionate release from a federal prison due to his failing health. He had served more than half of his 15-year sentence.

Langford is survived by his wife, Melva; son, Ronald Strothers; niece, Lena Powe McDonald; brother, Oliver Nance; sister-in-law, Casi Ferguson; grandchildren, Ronald Strothers III and Jared Daniel Strothers; and a host of other nieces, nephews, friends and supporters.

Many have expressed their condolences for Langford’s family, including Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

“Our hearts go out to the Langford family during this time of loss,’’ Woodfin said.

“Mayor Larry Langford had an unmatched love for his community – a love he expressed through his boldness and creativity. During all of our interactions, one thing was always clear – Mayor Langford was an unabashed advocate for the city he served. His fire for change and passion for people will be a lasting part of his legacy.”

“Above all else, Mayor Langford loved this city,” Woodfin said.

Langford grew up in the Loveman Village public housing in Titusville. He is a graduate of Parker High School Class of 1965. He served five years in the U.S. Air Force and later attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in social and behavioral sciences in 1972. While enrolled there, he worked at WBRC as one of the nation’s first black television reporters.

Langford was elected to the Birmingham City Council in 1977 and two years later made an unsuccessful bid for the city’s mayoral seat. But in 1982, he moved to Fairfield. He became that city’s first black mayor in 1988.

After four terms as the mayor of Fairfield, Langford was elected to the Jefferson County Commission in 2002 and was named president soon after. While on the commission as Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Langford created the Jefferson Metropolitan Health Care Authority and helped with the renovation of Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.

In 2007, Langford ran for the mayor of Birmingham and this time, he was successful. His campaign slogan was “Let’s Do Something.”

Langford proposed several ideas to make Birmingham better including the construction of a domed football stadium, retro-style trolleys to assist with mass transit, a canal from the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to allow cruise ships to dock in the city and was an advocate for the city to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Many of those ideas are taking place now, with the approval of an open-air stadium in downtown Birmingham and the Magic City will host the 2021 World Games.

In 2009, Langford was convicted of 60 counts of bribery, money laundering and other charges. The jury found he accepted about $236,000 in bribes to steer business to Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount. He was sentenced to 15 years in a federal prison.

In prison, his health began to decline and he was issued an oxygen concentrator and nebulizer. He also needed a wheelchair to get around.

Langford was eventually released from prison in late December due to his failing health. He was then transported to Princeton Baptist Medical Center before his death.

Woodfin said, “Please keep Mayor Langford’s loving wife Melva, family members and friends in your prayers during this difficult time. May he be remembered for his boundless ingenuity and as a fervent voice for the people.”