Noah Lockley, Jr., who served for nearly two decades as county commissioner, passed away Tuesday afternoon at about 2 p.m. at his home in Apalachicola, surrounded by family, at the age of 72
A steady stream of friends, from the Hill neighborhood where he grew up, and from throughout the country, made visits over the past five months to the Lockley home at 147 Ninth Street, in the heart of District 3, which Lockley represented since he was first elected in 2004.
“My dad had a lot of people that care about him,” said daughter LaTrina, “I appreciate the love that they showed us.”
Lockley leaves behind his wife Georgia, and son Jeff and wife Cydell, daughter LaTrina and husband Demetrice Cummings, daughter Belinda Lockley, and son Gabriel and wife Sara, all of Apalachicola, as well as 13 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his eldest son Raymond.
Lockley, who during the 2020 pandemic had recovered from coronavirus, was absent from commission meetings, even by Zoom, beginning in early June as his health worsened.
“Anybody who knew him or watched his life knew Mr. Noah was very involved in his community and the county,” said Commission Chairman Ricky Jones, who worked alongside Lockley over the past seven years.
“There’s no replacing him and he will be missed,” he said. “He was a strong advocate for his community and for the county.”
A former seafood worker and journeyman carpenter and plumber, over his five terms in office Lockley was regarded as an outspoken voice for those throughout the entire county, of all colors, who were in danger of being overlooked or ignored as the county transitioned from seafood to a less local, more gentrified tourist economy.
He was a staunch supporter of Weems Memorial Hospital, a vocal proponent of getting a new hospital built based on the voters’ support of a new facility when the one-cent health care tax was first approved countywide.
“His support for Weems flowed from his support of the community he represented,” said Jones. “They went hand-in-hand.”
While he was the only remaining Democrat on the county commission, Lockley also was known as a strong proponent of business, often willing to lend his support to development projects to an even greater extent than his Republican colleagues.
Known for his non-nonsense style, he also would on occasion strongly challenge those he disagreed with, especially when he felt they were working to undermine the commission’s authority.
“He would tell you how he felt about something,” said Jones. “He would tell you exactly what he thought.”
Lockley was first elected county commissioner in 2004, when he upset the incumbent Clarence Williams, and after drawing no opponent in 2008, he went on to win three straight elections by strong margins, ranging from 61 to 76 percent.
His current term expires next year, so it is unclear whether Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, will appoint a replacement ahead of the Aug. 24 primary.