Former Mississauga mayor Ron Searle had died at the age of 96, the city says.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie confirmed the news in a statement released Sunday evening.

“On behalf of the City of Mississauga and Members of Council, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and loved ones of former Mississauga mayor, Ron Searle,” Crombie said in the statement. “The thoughts and prayers of Mississaugans are with all of you during this somber and difficult time.”

Searle was a World War II veteran who served as a city councillor before going on to serve as mayor of the growing city from 1976-1978.He was succeeded by former mayor Hazel McCallion, who held the post for more than three decades until stepping down last year.

In her statement, Crombie saluted Searle as a “heroic” veteran who fought for his country abroad and went on to serve his community through the democratic process at home.

“Ron Searle’s stewardship and leadership as both a councillor and as mayor, helped lay the foundation that would see Mississauga grow farm fields and fruit trees, into the vibrant, prosperous, and thriving world-class city we have today,” Crombie said.

She said flags at Mississauga municipal buildings will fly at half-staff until Searle’s funeral.

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