SEBRING Mayor dies, is remembered as asset to the community
The mayor was remembered as a compassionate woman with a strong love of the town.
By TRAVIS REED
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
SEBRING -- An American flag over Sebring Presbyterian Church flew at half-staff to commemorate the passing of Daphne Cannell.
Sebring mayor for six and a half years, Cannell died early Wednesday of suspected heart failure. She was 61.
The Rev. James Doty, interim pastor at the church, said Cannell was extremely active there, reading announcements before services began and stopping by at least five or six times a week. Cannell served on the church's board of trustees and volunteered for several committees.
"There was no one else who was so responsible," the Rev. Mr. Doty said.
"She was a fantastic woman," said Teddy Ryan, Sebring municipal manager. "She had a lot of vision, a lot of heart for the community. She was a very gracious, sensitive, compassionate and caring woman."
Committed to post
Ryan said even though the Sebring mayor position is only part-time, Cannell committed herself to it full time. She was known politically for her strong backing of renovating the historic Strand Theater in town and revitalizing downtown Sebring with a $2 million infusion.
Before she became mayor, Cannell worked as treasurer for Sebring local schools.
"I don't think she liked to refer to herself as retired," Ryan said with a chuckle. "She just said, 'former treasurer.'"
She was also president of the Sebring Historical Society.
Ryan said Cannell is survived by a husband, John, and two children, Trevor and Tina.
"Everybody was into public service in that family," Mr. Doty said.
Carl Mort, the president pro tem of the city council, will take Cannell's place as mayor. Mort said he's known Cannell since high school, where she was a grade older. He said he didn't know her well at that time, but he grew to enjoy working with her in city government.
"I developed a great working relationship with her," Mort said.
Will be missed
Because Cannell was so involved in so many different aspects of the community, those remembering her said her absence will be felt everywhere.
"You can't replace a person like that," Mr. Doty said. "She continued to be the mayor despite two heart attacks. She pushed herself because she loved being mayor and she loved the people of Sebring."
"She was a joy to work for," said Ray Heverly, chief of the Sebring police department. "An extreme asset to the community."
Mr. Doty said a memorial service will probably be at the church Saturday morning, but plans for the ceremony aren't yet finalized.