WCOM NEWS

1-08-05

 

Ex-Miramar mayor in hospice

 

MIRAMAR--Former Miramar Mayor Vicki Coceano was admitted to the hospice division at Memorial Pembroke Hospital in Pembroke Pines on Wednesday after battling severe health problems, including a serious kidney ailment.

Though Coceano, 81, retired as mayor in 1999, her deep-rooted relationship with her constituents persisted, as she continued to boost senior causes and raise money for high school scholarships.

 

Coceano also remained a powerful force in politics, advising newcomers seeking office.

A Democrat, she said she became involved in politics after a hurricane damaged her back yard in 1960 and she couldn't find the mayor at the time for help. She fought the city and her developer on that matter before running for the commission in 1966, a bid she lost.

She ran again in 1977 and won, eventually serving for 22 years -- 10 as mayor. She developed a reputation as a brash and outspoken leader, ruling at a time when the city transformed from a sleepy town of about 50,000 to a thriving city of more than 100,000.

She has been credited with helping change Miramar's government from a strong-mayor form to one utilizing a city manager. She also served at a time when the city switched from a volunteer fire department to a professional paid staff.

"She helped us through a new era," said Miramar Mayor Lori Moseley.

Besides her involvement on the commission, Coceano served on the board of the Area Agency on Aging of Broward County for 26 years. She served as president in 1984, 1985 and 2003.

Edith Lederberg, the group's executive director and a close friend, recalled when she first met Coceano in the late '70s.

"I went to a meeting in Miramar and I saw this vibrant beautiful woman on the dais," said Lederberg, who said she knew right then that Coceano would be a good addition to the board. "She pulls no punches. She's the person you go to when you need a dose of reality."

Because of her contributions, both a Miramar youth center and post office in west Miramar have been named in her honor.

Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman, who sought Coceano's advice after losing a bid for office in 1998, said, "she's the kind of person who encourages you to go back and run again and she believes in always putting the residents first. She was a mentor to me. She's been very instrumental in my political grooming."

Nancy Holloway, an activist who has known Coceano for 19 years, said the former mayor has an air about her that simply commanded respect.

"It just seemed like if you needed help with something, she would always try to help," said Holloway.

Division Fire Chief Michael Conlan said Coceano was very involved in the department -- even bringing them baked ziti on occasion.

He said she has always had a sharp memory.

"She remembered everything," said Conlan. "She was very instrumental in supporting the fire services as we got off the ground."

Staff Writer Lori Sykes contributed to this report.

(source) Sun Sentinel (Georgia East) 1-08-05