CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Longtime Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver died Thursday after being hospitalized for more than a week with COVID-19.
The mayor, who was 84, passed away around noon at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham.
Following his death, Gov. Kay Ivey and others offer their condolences.
“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved Mayor,” said the Clanton Fire Department. “He was looking forward to his retirement later this year. At this year’s annual department dinner, Mayor Driver shared an emotional story about his time with the fire department until present and challenged the upcoming generations to continue the progress. His love for our city runs deep and he will be greatly missed by many!”
“Today, the state of Alabama lost a valued public servant of many years,” Ivey added of Driver. “He will truly be missed in his home of Clanton, but also by many of us across the state. I offer my heartfelt prayers to his loved ones, friends and the city of Clanton in their tremendous time of loss.”
Driver had been a political mainstay in Clanton for decades. He was a “pillar member of the Fire Department” before serving his city as mayor, the CFD said.
After working with the fire department, Driver jumped into politics and never lost an election once he secured a city council seat in 1972.
After twelve years on the council, he threw his hat into the ring for mayor and in 1984 he took over Chilton County’s largest city. He would go on to be re-elected multiple times over the next 36 years.
A prayer vigil was held for Driver downtown Thursday around 10 a.m. not long before his death was confirmed.
Upon learning the news, other Chilton County agencies began offering their condolences.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver who passed away today. He served the City of Clanton with a servants heart and will truly be missed,” said Chilton County E-911 Interim Director Terra Scott.
Jemison Police Chief Shane Fulmer added, “The City of Clanton, Chilton County, and the State of Alabama has lost a true public servant today... Our hearts are heavy for the Driver family and we send our thoughts and prayers.”
The fire department asked for residents to “continue to remember our Mayor in your thoughts and prayers.”
Gov. Ivey has authorized the city of Clanton to lower flags to half-staff on the day of the mayor’s interment. Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.