When WTSP-Ch. 10 weather forecaster Dick Fletcher died Tuesday, the tributes to his near-30-year-legacy were extensive and immediate.
Thousands of fans sent condolences and appreciative cards, e-mails and online comments. Local TV stations, newspapers and Web sites offered news reports and tributes. WTSP filled its airwaves Tuesday with eulogies, presenting a prime time special on his legacy, which they will rebroadcast at 8 a.m. today.
And, according to Fletcher's 38-year-old son, Sean, no one would be more surprised to see all these tributes than his father, who remained humble through 28 years as the CBS affiliate's chief meteorologist.
"You really can take for granted the TV fame thing … for us, seeing all the tributes really put a different spin on it all," said Sean Fletcher, who said the family gathered to watch WTSP's prime time tribute together. "I think staying humble kept him grounded and kept him in the eyes of the people, as one of them. He wasn't somebody talking down to them."
Sean will share more thoughts on his father's legacy at 11 a.m. today, as one of the speakers during an hourlong memorial titled "A Celebration of Life" scheduled at the Suncoast Cathedral, 2300 62nd Ave. N in St. Petersburg. Other speakers for the event, which is open to the public, include WTSP reporters Mike Deeson and Beau Zimmer.
Dick Fetcher, 65, died Tuesday, eight days after he suffered a massive stroke.
Sean flew here immediately from Chicago, hopeful that the visit would last only a few days while his father recovered.
He said the outpouring of support from viewers after the stroke seemed to help his father. Family members read the cards and messages at his bedside at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.
"We made sure he knew how they felt," his son said. "And I'd like to think it helped."
Recalling the times when his father would bring him into the WTSP newsroom while reporting on emergencies, Sean Fletcher drew inspiration from his father's legendary, hard-working ways — even when that dedication kept him away from home.
"It inspired me quite a bit in my professional life … this incredible work ethic," said Sean Fletcher, an information technology expert with Motorola. "You knew, if there was a tornado watch, he might not be home for dinner. But he was helping people and making sure they were safe. That was just what he did."