Hans Tanzler

Hans Gearhart Tanzler, Jr. (March 11, 1927 – July 25, 2013) was an American politician and judge. He served as Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida from 1967 to 1979. During his administration, the City of Jacksonville consolidated with Duval County, making him the last mayor of the old city government and the first mayor of a consolidated Jacksonville. He was a member of the Democratic Party.

Hans Tanzler
Hans Tanzler.jpg
Mayor of Jacksonville
In office
1967 – January 2, 1979
Preceded byLou Ritter
Succeeded byJake Godbold
Personal details
Hans Gearhart Tanzler, Jr.

March 11, 1927
Jacksonville, Florida
DiedJuly 25, 2013(2013-07-25) (aged 86)
Jacksonville, Florida
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)LaMercedes Hutchins Woodard
Alma materJ.D., University of Florida, 1951

Early lifeEdit

Tanzler was born in Jacksonville, and graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1945. He was an outstanding athlete, lettering in football, basketball and baseball, and Duke University offered him a football scholarship. When a fire at Lee High School incinerated his academic record, Duke declined to enroll him; however, the University of Florida would, and offered him an athletic scholarship. Tanzler decided to go to Gainesville, but with World War II still ongoing, he was required to serve 18 months in the United States Navy. After arriving late for the fall term, Florida football coach Raymond Wolf decided to redshirt Tanzler, and recommended that he play basketball to stay in shape. Tanzler was a walk-on for the 1946-47 Florida Gators men's basketball team, and averaged nearly 11 points per game. He became a stand-out player, scoring in double figures all four years, and was named third-team All-SEC in his senior year, when he became the first Florida basketball player to pass 1,000 points in his college career.[1] He earned his bachelor's degree from Florida in 1949, then his law degree in 1951.[2] He was later inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great".[3][4] After graduating, Tanzler practiced law and eventually became a judge serving on the criminal court.[5]


In 1967 Tanzler ran against incumbent mayor Lou Ritter for the Democratic nomination. He ran on a ticket of reform as a "white hat", a supporter of consolidation of the City of Jacksonville and Duval County governments.[2][5] In those days, the Democratic primary was the real contest in Jacksonville. Tanzler defeated Ritter in the primary, then easily defeated Republican William Hembree in the general election.[6] Two months later, on August 8, 1967, voters approved the Jacksonville Consolidation. This meant Tanzler had to stand again for mayor of the new government on September 26. However, no one else filed, thus he became the first mayor in Jacksonville history to be elected unopposed.[6] When consolidation took effect on October 1, 1968, Tanzler became the last mayor of the old city government and the first mayor of a consolidated Jacksonville.[2]

As mayor, Tanzler initiated a number of projects to revitalize Jacksonville's downtown with new revenues brought in by consolidation. Among the projects were the creation of what is now the Downtown Campus of Florida State College at Jacksonville, the construction of a large-scale public health facility, and the completion of major commercial construction projects including the skyscraper now known as the Wells Fargo Center. His most lauded contribution was his effort to clean up the St. Johns River, toward which he implemented sewage treatment and other environmental regulations.[7] Tanzler was reelected in 1971, after defeating former Jacksonville mayor and Florida governor W. Haydon Burns, a "black hat" anti-consolidation activist, in the Democratic primary, and then easily winning the general election.[8]

Tanzler divorced his first wife, Ann Lyerly Tanzler, mother of their son Hans Gearhart Tanzler III, and married the former LaMercedes Hutchins Woodard in 1973. The couple had one child, Hans, III, and two stepchildren from her former marriage to an Air Force test pilot.[9] He was reelected a second time in 1975, defeating Republican Don Trednick in the general election.[10]

In 1978 Tanzler announced his candidacy for Governor of Florida. He placed third in a seven-way Democratic primary eventually won by Bob Graham. The run required him to step down as mayor as of January 2, 1979; Jacksonville City Council President Jake Godbold was appointed to succeed him.[11]

Hans Tanzler died on July 25, 2013 at age 86.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Schneider, Jason (April 4, 2006). "Ex-mayor a passionate Gator". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Hans Tanzler: Founding Father". The Florida Times-Union. April 6, 2006. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  3. ^ F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved December 13, 2014.
  4. ^ Mike Bianchi, "UF football team gets title trophies," The Gainesville Sun, p. 6F (April 14, 1985). Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Kerr, Jessie-Lynne (August 9, 2010). "A Look Back: How the vote for consolidation defined Jacksonville". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Tanzler Mayor; 139 Candidates Await Election". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. September 27, 1967. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  7. ^ "History". coj.net. City of Jacksonville. 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  8. ^ "Why Burns Lost His Bid". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. March 5, 1971. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  9. ^ Kerr, Jessie-Lynne (February 25, 2006). "LAMERCEDES TANZLER: 1931-2006". Florida Times-Union. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  10. ^ "Election Protest Dismissed". The Ledger. Associated Press. June 5, 1975. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  11. ^ "Jacksonville has a new mayor". St. Petersburg Times. January 3, 1979. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  12. ^ "Former Jacksonville Mayor Hans Tanzler dies at 86". News4jax. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
Political offices
Preceded by
Lou Ritter
Mayor of Jacksonville (Pre-Consolidation)
Succeeded by
Himself as mayor of consolidated Jacksonville
Preceded by
Himself as mayor of pre-consolidation Jacksonville
Mayor of Jacksonville (Consolidated City)
Succeeded by
Jake Godbold