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Phyllis Turner Warren | 1909-2011

Phyllis Turner Warren, who watched city grow from Bayshore home, dies at 102

BAYSHORE BEAUTIFUL — For more than a century, Phyllis Warren's address was Bayshore Boulevard.

Her parents, Lorenne and Alonzo Turner, built one of the first houses on Bayshore just before she was born. When she married, she moved into a house her husband, businessman James W. Warren, had moved from the Palma Ceia Country Club area onto Bayshore.

After her husband died, Mrs. Warren moved into a Howell Park condominium. For the past 13 years, she lived at Canterbury Tower.

Mrs. Turner died Dec. 2 after a short illness. She was 102.

"She loved the Bayshore," said her daughter Lora Hulse. "She said that even though she had moved several times, she never lost her view of that beautiful water."

When Mrs. Warren was a girl, Tampa was a small but burgeoning town, and her father was among its most prominent citizens. He was a founding partner in one of the city's first law firms, now called Holland & Knight.

At that time, Bayshore was so sparsely developed that the family could keep a horse in the back yard, and Mrs. Warren would ride it to the now-defunct English Classical School. The sidewalk in front of the family's house still has hoof prints in the concrete.

The Warren house has a basement, an unusual feature for Tampa homes. Mrs. Warren's mother had demanded a basement, which was obviously impractical so close to the water. So builders added several feet of soil to raise the level of the ground on the property.

Mrs. Warren graduated from Hillsborough High School and then went to Hollins College in Virginia.

Tampa was still her home, and she returned here immediately after graduation.

Soon after, in 1931, she was elected queen of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. At the time of her death, she was the oldest living queen.

Because her family was so well-known, her engagement to James Warren, a Coca-Cola executive who had been the Gasparilla King in 1924, was big news in Tampa social circles. A local newspaper covered the party at which the engagement was announced, noting that it was only the third time "a Gasparilla King had married his queen" and calling Mrs. Warren "a popular member of the young social contingent."

After her marriage, Mrs. Warren settled into the life she had dreamed of: as a wife, mother and homemaker. She was devoted to her children, and her son Jim recalls that she would cry when she had to discipline them.

"She was a wonderful mother," he said. "I don't think I ever once heard her raise her voice. She was a sweetheart."

Mrs. Warren and her husband shared a passion for travel, and saw the world together. Back at home, she kept busy with civic and charity work, mostly through the Junior League of Tampa.

Her husband, who was 10 years her senior, died in 1969. She still traveled on occasion, but spent most of her days with family and the many friends she had made in her more than 100 years in Tampa. Right up until the past few weeks, she enjoyed her life.

"If I had to describe her in one word," her daughter said, "it would be 'lady.' She was the essence of a lady."

Besides her son and her daughter, Mrs. Warren is survived by four grandsons and three great-grandsons.

Marty Clear writes life stories about local residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at

Phyllis Turner Warren, who watched city grow from Bayshore home, dies at 102 12/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 15, 2011 3:30am]
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