Ex-congressman, ex-Nashville mayor Richard Fulton dies at 91

NASHVILLE — Richard Fulton, a Democrat who was elected to seven terms in Congress and served 12 years as mayor of Metro Nashville, has died.

He was 91.

Former Nashville chief operating officer Richard Riebeling, a longtime friend who once was an aide in Mr. Fulton’s mayoral office, said Mr. Fulton’s oldest son informed him of his father’s death Wednesday at a hospice care center.

Mr. Fulton was elected to Congress in 1962 and was a rare Southern supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and Medicare.

He left the House of Representatives to serve three terms as mayor of Metro Nashville, holding office from 1975 through 1987.


While mayor, Mr. Fulton was president of the US Conference of Mayors and the Tennessee Municipal League.

He ran for governor in 1978 and 1986, but lost in the primary to Jake Butcher in the first race and to Ned McWherter in the second.

Mr. Fulton, who was born and raised in Nashville, also served a stint in the Navy and was a state senator from 1956 to 1960.

He ran for Nashville mayor again in 1999 but lost to Bill Purcell, saying after he lost that a new generation of politicians had emerged.

After leaving politics, Mr. Fulton helped launch the Bank of Nashville and worked in his family’s real estate business.

In October 2011, a complex of city offices was named in his honor.

As mayor, he helped spearhead the approval of the Nashville Convention Center, a downtown park on the banks of the Cumberland River, and development along the river and elsewhere downtown.

Offering his condolences, current Nashville Mayor David Briley said Mr. Fulton was the right man at the right time to lead the city forward.

‘‘Richard Fulton helped make modern-day Nashville what it is with his leadership as mayor, and he helped America live up to its promises by creating new freedoms with his votes for civil rights, voting rights, health care, and fair housing in Congress,’’ Briley said in comments he posted on Twitter.