VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Louis Jones, a longtime member of the Virginia Beach City Council an former mayor, has died at 86 years old.

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Councilman Jones was out campaigning on Saturday when he went into cardiac arrest and died, WAVY’s Brett Hall reported. He was running for his 9th term on City Council.

Jones has represented the Bayside District on the City Council for nearly four decades, according to his online biography. During his time in politics, he has also served as Virginia Beach Mayor from May 2018 to November 2018 and from July 1982 to June 1984.

“It is a total shock. You think of Louis Jones as one of those kinds of people that go on forever, so I was completely shocked,” Tom Leahy, retired acting city manager, told 10 On Your Side.

He also served as vice mayor from November 2001 to April 2018.

“He obviously cared deeply about the city and did a lot of good things in numerous projects and all that, but inside it all it was this love for Virginia Beach,” said Jim Spore, a former Virginia Beach city manager.

Jones worked on the Lake Gaston pipeline project in the late 90s. The project was responsible for bringing 60 million gallons of fresh water to Virginia Beach every day.

“Really there from the start of the project to the end of it a better partner we could ever have,” Leahy added.

Leahy said when Jones walked inside council chambers, he was a fair negotiator and someone everyone could trust.

“Louis Jones did so much,” Virginia Beach Vice Mayor Rosemary Wilson told 10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox. “We have lost an icon for Virginia Beach. He was instrumental in bringing water from Lake Gaston. His loss can not be measured.”

Mayor Bobby Dyer released the following statement after Jones’ death:

​”Today, I share with you my heartfelt sadness because of the sudden loss of a great leader and friend in our community.  Council Member Louis Jones dedicated decades of service to our community as a former Mayor, Vice Mayor, and council representative for the Bayside District.

His legacy is drawn from so many significant milestones and accomplishments for the city: the Lake Gaston pipeline, a new convention center, expanded growth in recreation centers throughout the city, protection of our coastal resources, and all the many challenges we overcame as a rapidly growing city.  His experience and love for his city helped us succeed on so many levels that carried us into the new millennium. 

Louis was a true leader, working and leading organizations throughout Hampton Roads:  Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, Hampton Roads Metropolitan Planning Organization, Atlantic Park Community Development Authority, Bayfront Advisory Commission, the City’s Development Authority, the Lake Gaston Water Task Force, the Military Economic Development Advisory Committee, the Minority Business Council and the Stormwater Appeals Board. These were just a few of the many groups where Louis gave of his immeasurable time and commitment.  

Personally, I very much enjoyed serving on the Virginia Beach City Council with Louis.  In 2004 when I came on City Council, he took me under his wing as friend and mentor, and we formed a very strong bond and close friendship.  Louis was blessed with extraordinary business acumen and the ability to look at a situation, assess it, and cut to the core of the problem. Above all, his talent to inspire people resulted in so many good things for our city over the years.

Vision, persistence, knowledge, kindness, and love for Virginia Beach and its people were just a few of the characteristics that described Louis.  His dedication to Virginia Beach and the Bayside District was limitless. Because of his belief in what he did and his graciousness when working with anyone and everyone, we are a far, far better city.  I will miss him more than I can say.  

On behalf of all the members of our City Council, as well as the members of the City of Virginia Beach government, I express our condolences and deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones.

Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander also released a statement:

“Louis Jones was an extraordinary businessman and public servant. I considered him a mentor, confidant and dear friend. May his memory, loyalty and dedication continue to be a blessing to his family, friends and the City of Virginia Beach.”

Jones was also the City Council liaison to the Atlantic Park Community Development Authority, Audit Committee, Bayfront Advisory Commission, Development Authority, Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, Lake Gaston Water Task Force, Military Economic Development Advisory Committee, Minority Business Council and Stormwater Appeals Board.

In addition to his work with the city, Jones is also the longtime owner of Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home.

“The city has lost a great representative. I have lost a good friend and a mentor. I don’t really know what to say other than that. Other than it is one of those things that you feel empty when it happens,” Leahy said.

He holds an undergraduate degree from the College of William & Mary and is a graduate of the Echols College of Mortuary Science.

His family shared a couple of photos of Jones and his grandson, Gordon Louis Jones.

“Here are a few photos of Louis at his last swearing in ceremony with Gordon Louis Jones, grandson, who helped with his campaign and loves politics!” the family said.