Ralph Washington, former Central Mayor Pro-Tem, dies

Ralph Washington, Central’s former mayor pro-tem who helped lead the city’s founding in 2005, was pronounced dead on Saturday.

Though the cause of death was not clear on Saturday, Central City Councilman Wayne Messina said Washington suffered from diabetes and a heart ailment.

“He had a true love for Central,” said Messina, who served with Washington for four years. “He’s one of the best friends I ever had, and I loved working with him.”

Washington served on the City Council and was mayor pro-tem for nine years, from the city’s founding in 2005 until he lost a bid for re-election and his term ended in July, Messina said.

As a councilman, Washington played key roles in an array of city matters — from development of its master sewer plan to its architectural design code, Messina said.

His impact also was felt among Central’s police as he moved the police headquarters to a better location and helped the staff get more equipment, Police Chief James Salsbury said.

“Most of the residents of Central know who Ralph was and what he stood for,” Salsbury said. “He was very supportive of the police department from day one. We as a Police Department never forgot that.”

Washington, who public records indicate was 60, leaves behind a wife and two children. He also owned Red Stick Cleaners on Greenwell Springs Road.

“He was a very fair guy,” Salsbury said. “His heart was in Central.”