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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Former Gov. Claude Kirk has died at age 85



ot_332641_keel_scott_24.jpgClaude Kirk, a flamboyant and visionary leader who was the first Republican governor of Florida since Reconstruction, died Tuesday night at his home in West Palm Beach. He was 85. His son Erik, a lobbyist in Tallahassee, confirmed the death.

He is survived by his wife, Erika Mattfeld Kirk and his children: Sarah, Katherine, William, Frank, Adriana, Claudia and Erik. He is also survived by 14 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

Information on memorial contributions and services will be forthcoming, the family said in a statement.

Kirk was the 36th governor of Florida (1967-71), and served during a turbulent time of anti-war protests, teacher strikes, reapportionment battles and other crises. A former Democrat, he won the governorship in part due to deep divisions in the then-dominant Democratic Party. As governor, Kirk battled intensely with the Legislature. He created the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, but his colorful and combative style did not last, and he was defeated by Democrat Reubin Askew when he sought re-election in 1970. More here.     

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 12:04pm]


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