NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Former Newport News Mayor Joe Frank has passed away at age 79.

Frank served as the Mayor of Newport News from 1996 until in June 2010, making him the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. Prior to his time as mayor, Frank also served on the Newport News City Council and was vice mayor for two terms, first elected in 1988.

Frank was also responsible for many projects, including the development of the City Center area. He is also accredited for helping protect key assets like Fort Eustis and Jefferson Lab.

In a statement Friday, the City of Newport News recalled Frank as a “devoted leader who served Newport News with honor, ingenuity, and compassion for over 22 years.”

Mayor McKinley Price has ordered all Newport News city flags to be lowered and remain at half-staff until sunset on Monday, Oct. 31 in honor of the former mayor.

Price said it was Frank that motivated him to run back in 2010. He says the advice Frank gave him.

“Nothing you are going to do is going to please everybody … the thing to do is what is best for the most people and to follow your heart,” Price said. “Do what you know is right. Just be prepared for criticism because it’s going to come no matter what you do. No matter how good you think you are doing. You’re not going to please everyone.”

Senator Tim Kaine remembered Frank as a “Mayor’s Mayor.”

“He was a friend and mentor,” said Kaine. “I will miss him greatly.”

Congressman Bobby Scott released a statement regarding Frank’s passing below.

“I am very saddened to learn of the passing former Newport News Mayor Joe Frank. Joe was a pillar of our community and devoted his life and career to serving the citizens of Newport News. During his 14-year tenure as mayor, Joe helped transform our city through the development of City Center. He was instrumental in encouraging major businesses to expand in the city, and was a leading advocate in protecting key government and military assets, including Fort Eustis and Jefferson Lab. Joe’s positive influence and impact on Newport News can still be felt in every corner of the city. I will greatly miss his friendship and counsel. I send my condolences to Joe’s family, his many friends and supporters, and everyone positively impacted by his life.”

Congressman Bobby Scott (D, VA-03)

A memorial service is scheduled for Frank on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Ferguson Center for the Arts at Christopher Newport University.

The atrium at the Ferguson Center is named after Frank as well as his wife, Jane Susan Frank, who died in 2021.