PANAMA CITY, Fla. - On Sunday morning, Panama City lost one of its most devoted community leaders, 78-year-old Joseph Chapman.
"Joe was one of a kind. He's a bigger than life personality. The hardest working person that I've ever known," said longtime friend and colleague, Jimmy Barr.
Chapman wore many hats.
One of those hats involved his stake in real estate.
Barr said they've known each other since Chapman started Royal American Companies.
"I had the privilege of working with Joe for almost 30 years actually, starting with him back in the late seventies," said Barr.
He would also go on to open the People's First Community Bank on 23rd Street in 2000.
"He started People's First Community Bank - thousands of employees here in Bay County, hundreds if not thousands of homeowners have homes financed through his efforts," said Barr.
Perhaps his biggest impact was on the schools and youth organizations.
Earlier this year, the Chapman family donated half a-million dollars towards the reconstruction of the Tommy Oliver Stadium, located at his alma mater, Bay High School.
"It is where you come together to celebrate all the schools in the county, for everything you know...they all come here to play their games and get together with family and friends," said his wife Jeannette Chapman back in April.
He's known for giving to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bay County, but also giving back to kids during Christmas.
"Literally hundreds of kids had Christmases each year as far as Joe and his family and his foundation," said Barr.
Although Chapman is no longer with us, he leaves behind a legacy.
"Joe's legacy is going to live on for a long time because his businesses are continuing to exist, his families are involved in those businesses," said Barr.
Chapman was also a politician, and registered Democrat.
He served two terms in the state legislature.
Funeral arrangements for Chapman haven't been announced yet.
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