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Friends Remember Fort Lauderdale Activist Ron Centamore

Ronald Centamore
Courtesy of Centamore's wife, Kim Centamore
Ronald Centamore, 71, died on Jan. 28, 2019 due to complications from bone cancer and heart failure.

Fort Lauderdale lost one of its most involved citizen activists this week. 

Ronald Centamore, known as "Ron The Cop" to many of his friends, died on Monday due to complications from bone cancer and heart failure. He was 71 years-old. 


"The guy was doggedly selfless, a community builder, and visionary. Don't know how better to put it," said friend Chris Wren. 

Wren, former executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, worked with Centamore on improvement projects for downtown. He says they would often sit at an outdoor cafe together, drink a few beers, and get to talking about city issues. 

"We'd both be chuckling, that's a fond memory," Wren said. "He had a great sense of humor."

Wren said he hopes the Progresso Village neighborhood can find a park or some green space to name after Centamore, as a way to honor him. 

Centamore was a longtime police officer and led the Downtown and Progresso Village Civic Associations. 

"I think it actually came from when he was a police officer," said friend Marilyn Mammano about Centamore's passion for neighborhoods. 

She worked with him on the Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations, and they would have breakfast together at the Floridian restaurant on La Olas Blvd. 

"He became immersed in the whole idea of neighborhoods and neighbors working together. It was a natural transition to activist," said Mammano. 

For all of his work to increase the quality of life in downtown, Centamore was bestowed Fort Lauderdale's Distinguished Citizen in 2017. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his fellow neighbors.  

"I just want to reflect a little bit back on when I got here, in 1981, when there was one tall building downtown, and at six o'clock at night, you could roll a bowling ball down Las Olas Boulevard and not hit anybody or anything... we've come a long way. And we came a long way because of the citizens," he said.  

Other citizen activists in the community recognize that Centamore was a leader. Stan Eichelbaum said Centamore was the kind of guy who cared about everyone and everything. 

"He was an archivist of every bit of the city over the past few decades," Eichelbaum said. 

"He always believed there was a solution to everything," Eichelbaum said.

Jeff Burns said he'll miss having Centamore to talk to. Burns, owner of the company Affiliated Development, met Centamore several years ago when he began to plan a new apartment building for Centamore's neighborhood, Progresso Village.

Burns says Centamore pushed to have useable space for all neighbors and wanted to make the area "cool" and bring in diversity and constant activity. Out of business, the two formed a close friendship.

"We'd just talk. If I wanted to vent, I could always call Ron and bend his ear," Burns said.

The apartment building isn't finished yet, and Burns said it will haunt him that Centamore won't get to see it completed. 

"I hope that we can do him justice and I hope that we can make him proud," Burns said. "The community really lost one of the greats."

A viewing will be held for Ron Centamore today at Kalis-McIntee Funeral Home in Fort Lauderdale from 4 to 8 p.m. A mass will be held at St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale Friday at 10:30 a.m. He will be buried in the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth. A Celebration of Life gathering will be held at the Police Officer Association Hall & Bar Friday in Fort Lauderdale at 5 p.m.

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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