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Former Mansfield mayor Cocchi died Friday

Former Mansfield mayor Bill Cocchi in 2011.

Former Mansfield mayor Bill Cocchi in 2011.

MANSFIELD — An influential leader in the town of Mansfield died Friday after undergoing a recent surgery.

When former mayor William Cocchi took office in 1992, he was dedicated to improving the operations at City Hall. For example, the electric system was operating on its last leg. He took charge to enhance the system, obtaining new poles and transformer and replacing 40-year old equipment.

During his 19-year tenure as mayor, the city also added 21 miles of water lines, moved from a one-room City Hall at the Community Center into a former bank and larger facility next door and added a storage area for city vehicles.

Interim mayor Jefferson Riley said on Friday that Cocchi was one of the first people to welcome him and his family when he moved to Mansfield four years ago.

“He really made us feel incredibly welcomed and came by once a week to stop and check on us,” Riley said. “He was truly a wonderful person and we really became friends over the last four years. He was so well loved in the city and will definitely be missed.”

Riley who could be running to take a permanent seat as mayor said he met with Cocchi three weeks ago to discuss what needs to be done in the city.

“I now have three pages of notes of city items that I need to check into and things to look out for,” Riley said. “He gave tremendous advice.”

In 2011, Cocchi received the Grant Award for Outstanding Elected Official from the Georgia Urban Forestry Council. He also received recognition for his work with the Mansfield Tree Board to get Mansfield certified as a Tree City.

“He was always really good to me and concerned about the citizens of Mansfield. He was always working to see what he could not to improve the town, but what he could do to keep it the friendly town that it is,” City Clerk Jamie Ruark said.