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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Services to be Saturday for House's 'Sarge,' Wayne Westmark

In this iconic photo on display at the Capitol, House Sergeant at Arms Wayne Westmark, left, joins his Senate counterpart, Wayne Todd, in the "hanky drop" to end the 1984 session.

floridamemory.com

In this iconic photo on display at the Capitol, House Sergeant at Arms Wayne Westmark, left, joins his Senate counterpart, Wayne Todd, in the "hanky drop" to end the 1984 session.

11

July

A funeral service will be held Saturday, July 16, in Tallahassee for Wayne Westmark, who patrolled the state Capitol for 22 years as the House sergeant at arms from 1976 to 1998.

Westmark, known as "Sarge," died last Thursday. He was 83. A native of Pensacola and a Florida State graduate with a biology degree, he was a pharmaceutical salesman in Wakulla County when he was hired as sergeant in 1976, with Democrat Don Tucker in the speaker's office. He held the post for more than two decades, ending with the speakership of Dan Webster, the first Republican to hold the office in more than a century.

The sergeants have a unique role in the Legislature, not merely as doorkeepers but as officers who discreetly take care of every problem involving lawmakers and their staffs.

In that 1976 session, his first as chief of security for the House, The Miami Herald's Tom Fiedler described Westmark trying to show members of the House freshman class how to make long-distance phone calls: "Mash the intercom button and wait for the operator." (In those pre-cellular days, legislators and staffers pleaded with a House telephone operator for access to a WATS line).

And when cell phones became common in the early 1990s, their frequencies set off fire alarms in the Capitol. "Those dad-blamed phones set off the alarms again," Westmark told The Ledger of Lakeland in 1994.

Westmark's obituary in the Tallahassee Democrat describes him as an avid fisherman who spent his retirement years traveling with his wife, Joyce, in their RV (she died in 2013). The service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Immanuel Baptist Church in Tallahasseee.

[Last modified: Monday, July 11, 2016 10:35am]

    

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