CRESTVIEW — Former Mayor Ted Mathis, who died Thursday of congestive heart failure following a period of illness, served in City Hall from November 1987 until April 1995.


CRESTVIEW — Former Mayor Ted Mathis, who died Thursday of congestive heart failure following a period of illness, served in City Hall from November 1987 until April 1995.



Mathis — who pushed for installing the instrument landing system that increased Bob Sikes Airport’s capabilities — succeeded former Mayor Jerry Milligan and served until George Whitehurst was reelected to the office.



Under Mathis' administration, rail passenger service returned to the Hub City in January 1993 for the first time in more than 20 years, and continued three times weekly until August 2005.



He had passionately worked to dam the Yellow River, a project eventually abandoned but considered, at the time, a solution for the north county’s long-term water needs.



"Ted Mathis was one of the finest men that I've known," Mayor David Cadle said. "He loved Crestview and was a true and dedicated public servant. We'll miss him in the city. He was very gracious. He was a fine gentleman."



Mathis, a former Navy Seabee commander, entered the Navy after high school and rose to E6 from E1 in four years. As a machinist, he worked in the Navy's largest machine shop in Astoria, Ore.



After attending the University of South Carolina, he worked for NASA in Hampton, Va., supporting the Scout missile. While at the space agency, he invented a cooling system for payloads.



He left NASA and went to work for the Air Force, where he tested the first laser on an aircraft and moved from South Carolina to Northwest Florida.



He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Joyce Mathis, his children: Gaye Mathis Helms, Dennis, Joy, Greg, Evelyn, Karen and Steve Mathis, nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.



The funeral for former Crestview Mayor Ted Mathis is 4 p.m. Sunday at the First United Methodist Church Cross Roads Center, 599 Eighth Ave. Visitation is at 2 p.m.



Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.