Frank J. Esposito, who led the city as mayor for a record seven terms, died Wednesday at age 83.
Esposito was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago.
Esposito, a Republican, also served four terms in the General Assembly.
"This is the loss of a great mayor," said current Mayor Richard Moccia. "We go back a lot of years. I would come into this office while he was mayor to talk things over or get advice. People loved him."
He lost in his first attempt to become mayor in 1977 to Democrat William A. Collins. But in 1987 he won the office and held it for 14 years. Moccia called him one of the greatest mayors Norwalk's ever had.
"I never knew a man who embraced the job of mayor more than Frank Esposito," Moccia said. "He set the standard and he set the bar high. In 7 terms, in longevity, he did something [most] others can't do. It's hard to know he'll never be back to visit this office."
A lifelong resident of Norwalk, Esposito was in the Norwalk High School class of 1946.
Harold Osgood was chairman of the Republican Town Committee the first time Esposito ran for mayor, and later served under him as a police commissioner.
“He was a people person," Osgood said. "He had a rapport with the people on the street. I spent a lot of time with him."
Asked to comment on Esposito's passing, retired police Capt. Peter Torrano, who is an active member in the Republican Town Committee, said, “He epitomized what a politician should be. He managed to bring together both sides. He worked for the benefit of the city only. He tried very hard to keep in mind the burden on the taxpayers, while promoting social programs as well."
Esposito is survived by his wife, Louise, and their son and daughter.
According to Moccia, services will be held at St. Matthews Church at 216 Scribner Avenue in West Norwalk on Sunday and Monday. A wake will be held Sunday evening from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Monday, a funeral will be held at 10 a.m.