Longtime Florida legislator Betty Holzendorf dead at 84

 March 1, 2024

Former Florida Senator and Representative Betty Holzendorf, who represented Northeast Florida, has passed away, as confirmed by Action News Jax.

According to a Facebook post from the Duval County Democratic Party, Holzendorf died Thursday at the age of 84, as stated in her Florida House biography.

Her career

Holzendorf, a Democrat, held office in the Florida House of Representatives from 1988 to 1992 and later served in the Florida Senate from 1992 to 2002, according to her House and Senate biographies.

She ran as a candidate for mayor of Jacksonville in the 2003 city election, a race ultimately won by Republican John Peyton.

Holzendorf was an alumna of both Edward Waters University and the University of North Florida, earning her bachelor’s degree from the former and her master’s in educational administration from the latter. A street on the UNF campus is named in her honor.

Her background

She was married to King Holzendorf, who served on the Jacksonville City Council for two terms from 1995 to 2003.

The Duval County Democratic Party issued a statement expressing condolences on Holzendorf’s passing, describing her as one of the city’s legendary leaders and proudest Democrats.

The statement praised her dedication to advocating for education, affordable housing, healthcare, and beach re-nourishment, highlighting her integrity, fighting spirit, and love for the city of Jacksonville.

Leaders respond

Jacksonville City Councilmember Rahman Johnson called Holzendorf an iconoclast and said she was "feared and fearless."

"If you haven’t had a bowl of her gumbo or anything she cooked up, for that matter, you missed a treat. Her lessons were just as filling as her food. One of her many lessons is a mantra I live by daily.

“When it comes to legislation, if you haven’t read it and understood it – don’t vote for it.” That advice and her voice in my head is why you will find me at City Hall in the wee hours of the morning – reading and preparing. Because Betty said so," Johnson wrote.

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan released a statement on Holzendorf’s passing as well.

“Betty Holzendorf was a force in Jacksonville politics and my dear friend for more than 30 years. As a science teacher, leader in two mayoral administrations, state representative, and state senator, her trailblazing career was dedicated to public service. I will always be grateful for her commitment to community and compassion for people," she stated.

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