Lynchburg mourners pay last respects to civil rights pioneer

Mourners gather at Court Street Baptist Church in Lynchburg to pay last respects to M.W. Thornhill.
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Mourners in Lynchburg are paying their respects to a city leader, business owner, and civil rights pioneer.

A public viewing is being held Friday at Court Street Baptist Church for M.W. Thornhill. He was the first black mayor of Lynchburg and spent many years fighting for causes in the African American community.

Thornhill was 95 when he died last Saturday. Before serving on city council for 16 years, he was successful in bringing the "ward" system to Lynchburg. Friends say that action guarantees fair representation on city council.

"When he became mayor, it was not just a crowning achievement for him but an entire segment of this community," said friend and former Lynchburg mayor, Carl B. Hutcherson. "He did an outstanding job as a civil servant in our community and he is going to be missed."

A funeral service for Thornhill will be held Saturday morning at 11 at Court Street Baptist Church. His burial will follow later that afternoon at Forest Hill Cemetery.