Jean Gay Mussleman

Jean Gay Mussleman

FLORENCE — Jean Gay Mussleman was described by past and present Florence City Council members as an effective communicator who studied issues before casting a vote, and someone who brought a calming force to the council.

She and her husband, David, who died in February 2018, were extremely active in the community and were involved in some of the city's most well-known events and organizations.

The Musslemans were involved in the creation of the popular W.C. Handy Music Festival, and Jean Gay wrote the city's first recycling plan before recycling really took hold in Florence, her daughter, Lindsey Mussleman Davis, said.

Jean Gay also served on the founding board of Safeplace and helped secure the grant that helped open its first shelter for women.

"She impacted all of our lies, all five of us," Lindsey Davis said of the couple's children. "We were truly blessed to have her as a mother."

She said her mother told her children early on: "to whom much is given, much will be required," and her mother lived by those words, a passage from Luke 12:48.

Davis said her mother served on the Florence Board of Zoning Adjustments; served two terms as a councilwoman beginning in 1988; and then served on the city's Civil Service Board.

Former City Council President Steve Pierce served with Mussleman.

"She was one of the most articulate women I've ever met in my life," Pierce said. "There were so many things they did behind the scenes to help people that nobody ever knew about."

Mussleman served on the council from 1988 to 1996. Pierce said he and Mussleman became good friends after she joined the council.

"She studied everything before she made a decision," Pierce said. "When she made a decision, you better know she knew everything about it. If you wanted to disagree with her, you better have your facts because she had hers."

City Council President Dick Jordan also served with Mussleman.

"She was very refreshing and such a kind person," Jordan said. "She was just gentle and kind. I really enjoyed working with her."

Jordan said Mussleman fit right in with the majority male city council.

"She was quiet, but very effective," Jordan said. "We got along, and I think she might have been the reason we got along so well. She was just a calming force."

Jordan said Mussleman always voted her convictions, even when she helped the council approve a 1-cent sales tax that may have cost her a third term. Mussleman was defeated in her bid to retain her seat by Jo Ann Thomas.

Jordan said Mussleman also played a role in the formation of Florence's MainStreet program with Hester Cope.

Former City Council member Bud Pride said he enjoyed the years he served with Mussleman.

"Jean Gay was a first-class lady," Pride said. "All the things she did, and all the decisions she made, I always thought everything she did was what she thought was in the best interest of the city."

Pride said he knew Mussleman from various organizations they were both involved in. 

"She treated everybody with respect, and she listened to what anybody had to say," Pride said.

Lindsey Davis said her mother was also involved in the Civil Rights movement in the Shoals and was an advocate for voting rights.

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