By Mark Schlueb, Orlando Sentinel
7:19 p.m. EDT, July 14, 2011
Carl Langford, the city’s longest-serving mayor, was laid to rest Thursday surrounded by titans of old Orlando who remembered him as a man who loved his family, his city — and a good prank.
A few hundred friends and admirers joined relatives at First Baptist Church of Orlando for a memorial service dominated by tales of his sense of humor and oddball management style.
Later, the funeral procession drove to Greenwood Cemetery, where his flag-draped coffin was transferred to an Amish hearse carriage pulled by two whitehorses for the winding trip to his family plot. The hearse was led by Fire Department bagpipers and followed by a riderless police horse.
A police honor guard fired a 21-gun salute for Langford, who was 92 when he died Saturday.
Langford, a World War II veteran and businessman, ran the city from 1967 to 1980. He was mayor when Walt Disney World arrived and helped acquire the land forOrlando International Airport.
Tom Hurlburt, a former Orlando police chief and U.S. marshal who worked under Langford, eulogized him as a man of high character who worked hard for the city. Langford went through the police academy and became a certified law-enforcement officer while he was mayor and occasionally showed up at crime scenes in the middle of the night, a radio in hand and .38-Special on his hip.
“Yes, he was a character,” Hurlburt said. “Sometimes he said things that would make you blush …. But know this: He loved this city more than anyone I’ve ever known.”
Langford also enjoyed the perks of office. As mayor, he enjoyed meeting celebrities and rubbed elbows with everyone from famed baseball catcher Johnny Bench to country star Roy Clark and actorSteve McQueen.
Often, he would enlist aides in minor peccadilloes.
Hurlburt recalled accompanying Langford to a Disney hotel, where he was greeting visiting business leaders. On the way out, a tray of Bloody Marys caught the mayor’s eye, and he told Hurlburt to grab the tray. They drove away, parked the car and downed the cocktails — about a dozen of them.
Later, Hurlburt said, “The mayor went to his office, lit his pipe and proceeded to conduct business all day long, while I slept in my office all afternoon.”
Langford once snubbed Jimmy Carter, saying he was too busy to see the relatively unknown presidential candidate during an unannounced visit to City Hall.
Years later, Langford attended a conference where President Carter was speaking. As Carter, his Secret Service protectors and others were filing out, Langford walked to the podium, pulled the presidential seal off the front and stuck it under his jacket, said assistant Randall James, who admitted that the seal is now in his attic.
At midnight on his last night in office, Langford played taps at City Hall.
On Thursday, it was an Orlando police officer who played taps at Langford’s graveside.
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