Perhaps anyone who has lived in the greater Niceville/Valparaiso area before January 2020, who may notice the sign on a section of State Road 285, will be happy to remember Mayor Randall Wise.
Perhaps those who never knew the longtime mayor of Niceville will want to know more about someone who served his city for 49 years.
In memory of Wise, who died on January 20, 2020, the portion of Partin Drive/SR 285 from Highway 20 to College Boulevard will be dedicated on October 6 from 8 to 9 a.m. at the intersection of SR 285 and College Boulevard.
“[Wise] did so much,” said Niceville City Clerk Dan Doucet. “He represented Niceville so well.”
Wise served his first term as mayor in 1971. Doucet began working with Wise in 1993 after Doucet retired from military service.
“The mayor was appointed back then (in 1971),” Doucet continued to say. “So was Lannie Corbin.”
Corbin, who recently retired, served as city manager.
Voters first elected Wise Mayor in 1987 due to a city charter change. “The job of the mayor is to preside over council meetings,” Doucet said, adding that Wise excelled at keeping the peace and moving meetings forward.
Service wasn’t limited to city government, with Wise participating as an active volunteer throughout Northwest Florida.
In addition to his mayoral duties, Wise was also a member of the Florida League of Cities, Inc., of which he served as president from 1979 to 1980. He received the E. Harris Drew Municipal Official Lifetime Achievement Award in 1979.
He worked with Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, the Niceville-Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, the Military Affairs Committee, the Host Committee for the Chamber of Commerce, the Ambassadors Committee, and the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council.
He was one of the original captains of the Niceville Volunteer Fire Department.
A lifetime resident of Niceville, Wise graduated from Niceville High School.
Wise married Mellodean Thomas in 1951, and the couple continued their life together in Niceville until Mellodean died in 1990.
At the time of his death in 2020, Wise was survived by his wife, Helen, and their combined families: Randy and Debbie Wise, Jill and Rick Watson, Jayme and
Mark Wilson, Lori and Mark Hadley, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Wise was the type of man who would take time to explain to schoolchildren how a city government operates, never speaking down and treating them as any community member. He was also the type of person who could attend a friend’s birthday party without taking attention away from the guest of honor.
“He was just real pleasant, he was just real personable,” Doucet said. “He was quite the guy.”
Wise is one of a tiny group of men to have served as city mayor for as long as he did. Wise’s 49-year tenure as the Niceville Mayor was matched in the northwest Florida area only by Valparaiso Mayor John B. “Bruce” Arnold. Arnold served 53 years from 1964 to 2017.
@midbaynews On friday - the city of #niceville will celebrate the renaming of SR285 to the Randy Wise Memorial Highway in honor of the city’s longest-ever-serving mayor. Only a few cities have ever had a mayor serve more time in that role #mayor #leadership #elections #municipal #municipality #florida #floridagovernment ♬ Election Day - Roy Kowalski