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Since You Asked

People who have lived in Medford for a while probably remember our recent mayors, such as Lindsay Berryman and Jerry Lausmann, but I've heard very little about mayors prior to them. Who were the city's earlier mayors, and when did they serve?

— L.M., via e-mail

You probably know some of the earlier mayors' names even if you don't know they were mayors, L.M., because they've been memorialized somewhere or they're still active in the community.

There's Al Densmore, for example, mayor from 1977 to 1982, who's now a member of the City Council, and Sebastiano J. "Ben" Fagone (1975-76), in whose memory Fagone Field was named.

Fagone, who served just two years, was among the more colorful of recent mayors. He liked to go by "Benny," even when he was mayor, and he was the first person to win the mayor's job as a write-in candidate. He won a Silver Star and Bronze Star in World War II and worked as a postman for years. He was an avid ballplayer, too.

Relative newcomers to Medford may not remember many mayors before Jerry Lausmann because he served so long. The owner of KOGAP Inc. (for Keep Oregon Green And Productive) holds the crown as the city's longest-serving mayor, with a tenure that ran from 1987 to 1998.

Lou Hannum wielded the gavel at City Council meetings from 1983 to 1986, and Lorin Jacobs served a two-year term (1973-74).

So, in the 35 years since 1973, Medford has had just seven mayors — Jacobs, Fagone, Densmore, Hannum, Lausmann, Lindsay Berryman, the city's first female mayor, who served from 1999 to 2004, and Gary Wheeler, who has held the office since Jan. 1, 2005.

Forty-one people have served as Medford mayor since the city was organized back in the 1880s. If you want to amaze your friends with your knowledge of the arcane, you can tell 'em the city's first mayor was one James Sullivan Howard, who served from 1885 to 1887.

One rather unusual name pops out on the list of mayors we obtained from City Hall. Among the Johns and Jerrys and Jameses, one Diamond L. Flynn served as mayor from 1949 to 1954. Known to his friends as "Dime," Flynn presided over the city when the pool was built at Hawthorne Park. He died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 59, in 1956.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501.