FOLEY – John Koniar, a longtime community leader who served as Foley mayor and a City Council member for 40 years, died Friday, March 22, at his home in Foley. He was 80.

Koniar was elected to the Foley City Council in 1980 and served until 2006. He served as president pro tem of the council from 1996 until 2006, when he was appointed mayor. He was elected to the office of mayor three times, serving until 2020.

John Eldon Koniar was born on Dec. 6, 1943 in Meridian, Miss. to John Koniar, Jr. and Minerva Genevieve Chatham. 

He graduated from Murphy High School in 1961. He attended the University of Alabama where he was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity and earned a degree in Industrial Engineering in 1965.

He married his beloved Linda Sue Lee on July 2, 1966. On Sept. 1, 1965 he entered active duty in the United States Air Force as a 2nd lieutenant. He served as a forward observer in Korea and was honorably discharged on Aug. 30, 1969 as a captain.

 John, Linda, and their sons Todd and Rob lived in Nashville where he worked for Shell Oil Company. In 1971, he joined Vulcan, Inc. and settled with his family in Foley, where they had their daughter, Mell. After 37 years of employment, John retired from Vulcan as a vice president of sales.

During his time as mayor, Koniar oversaw unprecedented growth while providing strong and steady leadership. Among his many accomplishments, his favorites included the South Baldwi Chamber of Commerce’s Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival, Foley Railroad Museum, OWA Amusement Park, the pedestrian bridge, Graham Creek Nature Preserve, Coastal Alabama Farmers and Fishermans Market, the Foley Event Center and the expansion of Sports Tourism. He also served on the Riviera Utilities Board for 14 years.

Another true joy for Koniar was his love of Christmas in Foley. He was beyond proud of how beautiful the city was during the season of Santa. He adored seeing the children enjoy the glow of the lights and wonderment of Christmas.

Of all his professional achievements, Koniar was most proud of the city of Foley employees. A day did not go by without him bragging about those who represented the city with their best. His philosophy was to not micromanage but to let them do their jobs—which they all did so well. He always said how blessed this community was because of its employees and was honored to serve alongside every one of them.

As dedicated as he was to the city of Foley, above all else, he was a devoted and loving husband to his wife Linda for 57 years. Their commitment to each other and to this community will be one that is talked about for generations to come.


A devout Christian, he attended the First Presbyterian Church in Foley where he served on the Session. Many will fondly remember him for his razor-sharp wit and one-liners. John also enjoyed travelling, photography, great wine, family dogs, and probably most of all, his beloved Crimson Tide.

John is survived by his wife Linda Sue (Lee), sons John Todd Koniar (Kim) of Magnolia Springs, Robert Thomas Koniar (Sarah) of Lewisville, Texas, daughter Mell Koniar Davis of Foley; five grandchildren, Katherine Ann Koniar, John Bradley Koniar, Claire Ann Davis, Shelby Chatham Koniar, Lee Webster Davis; sister, Sandy Chatham Martin (Ken) of Cato, MS; and many nieces and nephews. Last, but not least, John’s sweet and faithful Golden, Sadie.

He was preceded in death by his parents John Koniar, Jr. and Minerva Genevieve Chatham, and stepfather Harold John Chatham.

Pallbearers are Brent Martin, Brad Martin, David Lee, Marcus Tino, Bradley Koniar, Matt Maurin, and Honorary Pallbearer, Lee Webster Davis.

Visitation will be from 1-3 pm with the service to follow on Thursday, March 28 at First Presbyterian Church of Foley, 195 E Berry Ave. in Foley Graveside service will be at Pine Rest Cemetery in Foley immediately following the church service.

The family would like to thank Margaret Roley and the incredible care received from South Baldwin Regional Medical Center, Gentiva Hospice (with heartfelt recognition to Libby and Kelly), and last, but not least, the wonderful staff at Wolfe-Bayview Funeral Home in Foley. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First Presbyterian Church of Foley and the Foley Graham Creek Nature Preserve.