Miramar says farewell to longtime mayor


MIRAMAR--They called her the "matriarch of Miramar" -- the mayor with an open door policy who spoke her mind on the dais.

On Wednesday, family, friends and city employees gathered at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church to say goodbye to Vicki Coceano and to celebrate her life.


Coceano, 81, died on Saturday after battling severe health problems and a kidney ailment. Those who knew her well said her drive and commitment to bringing Miramar into a new era would live on.

Coceano served on the City Commission from 1977 to 1999, a stint that included 10 years as mayor. In 1999, she retired but her work in the community for senior causes and scholarships persisted.

Before her funeral, a moment of silence was held at town center and the city's flag was lowered in her honor.

At the church, the sounds of bagpipes filled the sanctuary while the firefighters and police officers lined the entranceway.

Mourners talked about the late mayor's reputation for being upfront and even the reverend quipped Coceano was sure to give God an earful.

But mostly they remembered her tireless effort to improve the city.

Vice Mayor Marjorie Conlan, who helped Coceano run her mayoral campaign, said she admired how the late mayor stood her ground even when her stance was unpopular.

Conlan described her as "gentle yet outspoken, determined yet compassionate. Friend or foe, she always had her door open,'' she said.

Coceano first 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 had said. She fought the city and her developer before running for the commission in 1966, a bid she lost.

She ran again in 1977 and won. During her 22-year tenure she saw Miramar transformed from a sleepy town of about 50,000 to a thriving city of more than 100,000.

While in office, Coceano changed Miramar's government from a strong-mayor form to one utilizing a city manager, which weakened her power.

She was deeply committed to senior causes as well and spent 25 years on the board of the Area Agency on Aging of Broward County. She was elected president of the board three times.

Coceano felt as comfortable in a ticket booth at a carnival as she did in a heated debate on the dais, her friends said.

Edith Lederberg, executive director of the Aging agency, recalled how Coceano would always sign her cards with "You know who loves you.''

Lederberg said the turnout from the city is just how Coceano would have wanted it.

"She loved all her employees from the top down,'' she said.

With a youth center and post office already named in her honor, Mayor Lori Moseley is requesting that the administration building at town center bear Coceano's name to highlight her service in Miramar.

(source) Sun Sentinel (Georgia East) 1-13-05