Make us your home page

GunnAllen Financial CEO Gordon Loetz drowns in boat accident

TAMPA — Gordon Loetz dived under thrashing waves off Puerto Rico to save his wife. She survived. He did not.

It was a final act of generosity that his friends said was just what they would have expected of him.

The 59-year-old chief executive officer of GunnAllen Financial drowned Friday after a fishing charter boat capsized.

Described by friends and co-workers as an energetic, thoughtful sportsman with a reputation as the family prankster, Mr. Loetz married his high school sweetheart, Deborah, 32 years ago. He spent weekdays at work in Tampa and at his Sarasota condo. On weekends, he often traveled to his home in Severna Park, Md., near his hometown of Glen Burnie.

On Friday, the 31-foot Bertram that Mr. Loetz and his family were on flipped while trying to plow through 15- to 20-foot seas near the breakers a half-mile off Isla Verde in Puerto Rico. The boat was stocked with life vests, but the four passengers — Mr. Loetz, his wife, their son Carter and his girlfriend, Loren Ellis — and two crew members were not wearing them.

Mr. Loetz scrambled to reach his wife, trapped inside the cabin. Inside, he pounded on a window, but they couldn't get out. With their air pocket shrinking, he grabbed her. They both took a deep breath and swam down and out into the swirling surf. Their son administered CPR to Mrs. Loetz, who was taken to a Puerto Rican hospital.

John Sykes, the 72-year-old investor who controls the holding company that owns GunnAllen, said the company plans to name a replacement today for its chief executive officer. But he lost more than an executive.

"After my wife, he was my best friend, like a son to me," Sykes said.

The two go back 30 years. Mr. Loetz, who sold his financial advisory service in Severna Park to ING, handled Sykes' personal financial affairs for decades. He moved on to be a director and until 2001 was chief operating officer of Sykes Enterprises Inc., the Tampa call center company founded by Sykes.

In November, Sykes installed Mr. Loetz as chief executive of GunnAllen Financial. His first task was to create a plan to grow a financial services company with 2008 revenues of $120 million and a network of 750 independent broker-dealers in 50 states just as the financial markets were knee-deep in meltdown. Sykes has visions of $500 million in annual revenues in five years.

Mr. Loetz developed a plan for creating more financial products and services for the network to sell, such as a recently launched tax advisory service.

"The new chief executive at GunnAllen is going to implement what Gordie laid out the past five months," Sykes said.

Mr. Loetz was known for volunteer work in Maryland. He continued coaching the Green Hornets soccer team after his four boys — three of them triplets and all of them now college age — had moved on. He was also chairman of Chesapeake Academy and a board member of the Summit School.

Services, scheduled for Saturday, are being handled by Barranco Funeral Home in Severna Park.

Lifelong pal Ned Spiker was among those who expected that Mr. Loetz might risk his own life to protect someone else.

"He just loved to help people," he recalled.

Mark Albright can be reached at or (727) 893-8252.

GunnAllen Financial CEO Gordon Loetz drowns in boat accident 04/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 2, 2009 9:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.