PLAQUEMINE, LA (WAFB) - Hundreds of residents lined up at Plaquemine City Hall Tuesday to pay final respects to a man who lead their city for more than two decades.
A casket carrying Mayor Mark "Tony" Gulotta arrived at City Hall with a police escort shortly before 4 p.m. The public visitation lasted until 8 p.m.
Family, friends and city workers stood outside to welcome the processional as it arrived.
"He will be sorely missed," said Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton. "A lot of young mayors should aspire to be like he was."
Gulotta died in office from a massive heart attack on Friday. He was 57 years old.
He is the longest serving mayor in the city's history, spending more than 22 years in office.
"His passion was just serving the people of Plaquemine," said Edwin Reeves, a council member on the Iberville Parish Council. Formerly a member of the Plaquemine City Council, Reeves worked with Gulotta when he was mayor.
"The whole city is hurting today. We've got a big hole to fill," Reeves said.
Gulotta oversaw many major projects in the city, including the construction of the Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park.
Residents said he greatly cared about his community and noted how he worked sometimes in subtle, unnoticed ways to make it better. For example, Clayton remembered a time he came across Gulotta in an overgrown graveyard.
"I passed by to tend to my grandmother's grave and he's out there with a chainsaw and a Kane knife and he's just out there working and I said what are you doing. He said in keeping up the graveyard," Clayton said.
"That epitomizes the guy that he was and will forever be remembered as – a good person, good man," he said.
This is the first time anyone has been laid in state in the city hall, according to City of Plaquemine spokesperson Ellie Hebert.
Gulotta comes from a family that has served Plaquemine. Both of his parents were on the city council. His brother Orian served as chief of police before passing away in April after a long fight with pancreatic cancer.
There will be another visitation Wednesday, September 16, at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. A mass of Christian Burial will immediately follow. Burial will take place at the St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church Cemetery on Main Street in Plaquemine.