Mayor remembered for revamping community dies

Pomona Park Mayor John Bergquist Jr. died Thursday after an extended illness. Bergquist was 74.

Mayor Pro Tempore Joseph Svingala automatically became mayor after John Bergquist’s death. At the May 8 city council meeting, the council will vote for a new mayor pro tempore.

“This man didn’t leave much for anybody else to do,” Svingala said. “If it wasn’t for the relationship with the mayor, and with the other council members, I wouldn’t be able to step into this position. Because as much as he knew, he tried to teach.”

Svingala said John Bergquist was essential in reducing town debt, paving roads and improving ballfields, among other beautification projects. 

“He revamped the whole community center,” Svingala said. “It’s really being utilized by both people in our town and people from out of town.” 

John Bergquist held multiple positions for aerospace and defense manufacturer Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. He later worked at Northrop Grumman’s St. Augustine facility. John Bergquist and his wife of 50 years, Patricia, moved to Pomona Park after he retired in 2007. 

In 2009, John Bergquist joined the Pomona Park Council and was Budget Committee chairman for more than three years before being elected mayor in a tight 2012 race, ultimately decided by drawing the longest straw.   

He was on the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity, a member of the Lake Broward Association and Lake Watch, a American Cancer Society Relay for Life volunteer and a Neighborhood Watch member.

John Bergquist’s son, John Bergquist III, said his father was handy and had the skills to help residents in need.

“I think (becoming mayor) was not something he aspired to do, but he saw there was a need. That’s kind of how he was,” Bergquist III said. “He was very much a giving person. If he saw a person in need, he was always there to help.”

Pomona Park Town Clerk Joan O’Connor said Mayor Bergquist was caring, generous and possessed a great deal of financial knowledge that benefited the town.  

“I can tell you this man was huge, bigger than life. He had a heart the size of Texas,” O’Connor said. “He was here every day.”

Patricia Bergquist said he was dedicated, kind and never stopped working.

“One of our neighbors was on the council and asked us to come to a meeting. They talked him into running for a seat,” Patricia Bergquist said. “He was dedicated for the town, and he wanted to do good things for it.”

Palatka Daily News

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