Longtime mayor of Fern Capital of the World dies at 82

James F. Sowell had been mayor of Pierson for 19 years

James F. Sowell.
James F. Sowell.

PIERSON, Fla. – For nearly 20 years, James F. Sowell held the position of mayor in the small town of Pierson. That sadly came to an end Sunday when he passed away at Ormond Advent Health Hospital at the age of 82.

Sowell, a lifelong fern grower who was first elected as mayor in November 2000, is remembered in the community for his immense devotion to the small town of about 1,800 residents.

Known as Jimmy to many residents in and outside of Pierson, Sowell was very active in the community. He was often seen at  Little League baseball games, the Lion's Club and other events.

Recently, Sowell had actively been pursuing environmental issues pertaining to protecting the vegetation and water along Lake George and the St. Johns River with the state of Florida. 

Linnie Richardson, part of Pierson Planning and Zoning, recalled working alongside the mayor.

"He was totally devoted to this community," Richardson said. "He always remained humble and approachable. He was attainable to anyone. No matter the issue, he would stop and listen."

Funeral arrangements for Sowell have not been finalized.

An interim mayor is expected to be appointed soon.

Pierson is known as the Fern Capital of the World.


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