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Remembering 'Visionary' Former WJCT Manager Fred Rebman

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Lori Rebman Shad
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Former WJCT station manager Fred Rebman passed away Monday. He was 79.A public memorial service has been scheduled for Rebman tomorrow morning at Metropolitan Park.

In 1962, Rebman was hired as the WJCT's general manager. At 28-years-old, he was the youngest station manager in the country.

Over a 28 year career at WJCT he pioneered several innovations, including live broadcasts of the City Council, school board meetings, and the Florida State Legislature.

"To imagine, he invested 28 years of his life, and the vast majority of his professional life, in developing public broadcasting here in Northeast Florida, certainly is a great legacy," said WJCT President and CEO Michael Boylan, calling Rebman a "visionary."

During his tenure with the station, Rebman convinced the city government to donate 28 vacant and polluted acres along the St. Johns River that were developed into what is now Metropolitan Park and WJCT studios.

Completed in 1983, Metropolitan Park became best known as the site of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.

He also served on the Board of Directors of PBS, acted as advisor to President Gerald Ford on public broadcasting issues, consulted with the United State Congress on coverage of their meetings, which gave birth to C-SPAN, and received countless awards and accolades.

A native of Michigan and a U.S. Army Veteran, in his retirement Rebman delighted in spending time with his family, doted on his small grandchildren, loved home improvement projects, enjoyed classic convertibles, shared a moral certainty that comes only with age and experience, and never lost at pool.

A memorial service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. on stage at Metropolitan Park with parking available at the river lot behind WJCT studios at 100 Festival Park Ave.

In lieu of flowers, the family says donations to WJCT in his honor would be welcomed.

You can follow Cyd Hoskinson on Twitter @cydwjctnews and Patrick Donges @patrickhdonges.