PLAQUEMINE, LA (WAFB) - It was a somber day in the City of Plaquemine as leaders, loved ones, and locals faced with the loss of its top dignitary.
Mark A. "Tony" Gulotta, 57, died Friday morning of a massive heart attack. He was the city's longest standing mayor.
According to officials with the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office, he was rushed to the hospital around 10:15 a.m. and died at 10:52 a.m. Sheriff Brett Stassi said Gulotta had a history of heart disease.
The family said Gulotta was at a friend's house Friday morning when he had the heart attack and collapsed.
On Friday afternoon Mayor Gulotta's house was filled with sadness, support, and comfort. His lifelong friend, and city police chief, Kenny Payne struggled to come to grips with Gulotta's death.
"I've known him for 45 years. We were classmates in 6th, 7th, 8th grade," Payne said.
Payne said Gulotta was a mentor, his guide, as he climbed the ranks of the police department.
"He was confident. He helped me tremendously every day. If there was a question in regards to budget, how to handle things from the public, he knew more people and knew how to handle people better than anybody I had ever seen," Payne said.
"I think if you knew Tony, you knew he loved his city. He loved Plaquemine and he wanted to see it grow and wanted to see it prosper and be a place that people loved," said Ellie Hebert, City of Plaquemine.
Gulotta was elected to his first term in 1992 and was currently serving his sixth straight term as mayor. He was also the owner and manager of Shotgun Construction LLC.
Having served Plaquemine for 22 years, Gulotta became the city's longest standing mayor. He is known for successfully completing many improvement projects. His proudest, his colleagues said, is the Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park.
"He was tremendously influential in getting it done and relentless in working tirelessly to get the funding to make it happen, and it is truly the signature project of the city and the pride of the city," Hebert said.
Gulotta's constituents said he was more than just an elected official, he was a friend who genuinely cared about everyone.
"He was a good mayor, good guy helped people out, did things for people. He'd see that people had jobs and things," Joseph Pollet, Sr. said.
"The culture of the community, we are close knit, and any time there is a loss that's an experience that touches the entire community," Assistant Manager of Butcher Boy's, Andre Jack said.
While the city heals from its loss of their loved leader, those who served with him said they will continue his work just as their companion would have wanted.
Gulotta is survived by his wife Sue and two adult children.
Mayor Gulotta's death comes at a tough time for the city still recovering from the loss of its police chief, Tony's brother, Orian. He died in April after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
The Mayor Pro Tem, Oscar Mellion, will oversee the operations of the city until a new mayor is elected next fall. A special board meeting will be held next week to officially approve the move.
Plaquemine, LA is about 17 miles south of Baton Rouge.