MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – The City of Madison has confirmed that former mayor Burwell ‘Sonny’ Wilbanks has passed away at 92.

According to his daughter-in-law, Mayor Wilbanks stayed independent despite his illness. “He was a remarkable man,” she said.

Circa 1988, Courtesy, Emily Harmon Wilbanks

Mayor of Madison Paul Finley says, “Our City of Madison family is saddened by the passing of our former Mayor Burwell ‘Sonny’ Wilbanks. Mayor Wilbanks governed Madison into our current Mayor/Council form of government, setting us up for the continued success our city enjoys today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Wilbanks family.”

Mayor Wilbanks had served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, and when he returned he attended Auburn University and Florence State College, now the University of North Alabama.

After settling down in Madison, many of his friends and citizens urged him to run for Mayor. According to the city’s website, Mayor Wilbanks was elected in 1969, and served several terms until 1988.

In a write-up from Senator Tom Butler and Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong, Mayor Wilbanks was a crucial player in many infrastructure changes in Madison. With the help of US Rep. Bob Jones, he obtained a 99-year lease with TVA for Palmer Recreational Park in Madison. He was also instrumental in the development of Bob Jones High School.