Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa's storied mayor gets hospitalized — and a health lesson

Greco

Greco

Saturday will mark the first year in decades that Dick Greco, four-time Tampa mayor and city icon, will not be a presence in the Gasparilla parade and festivities.

You will not see him glad-handing his fellow pirate powerful. He will not pose for pictures along the parade route with all those strangers who are just friends he has not yet met. He will not tip back a traditional brandy-laced milk punch over at the yacht club, and he won't toss beads to the sauciest of wenches along Bayshore Boulevard.

Who knows how many biceps will go unsqueezed, how many backs unslapped, how many men, women and children unhugged, without the serially social ex-mayor?

Greco, who only once before in his 82 years has been hospitalized (for a back procedure), who can boast a mere two cavities in a lifetime, will watch the parade on TV from a bed at Florida Hospital Tampa.

And this should be a lesson to us all.

"I tell you, I will pay attention from now on," Greco told me from that hospital bed Thursday, hours after his fourth surgery. "After really giving it some thought, it was a dumb thing to do."

The pain from what would turn out to be a hernia started maybe a year ago, not so bad at first, then last week so intense he ended up at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg in the night.

Why, St. Petersburg is an intriguing bit of history in our sister-city rivalry.

Last year, Greco shocked his hometown when he and wife Dr. Linda McClintock Greco moved from their Bayshore Boulevard high-rise across the water to bustling, artsy St. Petersburg. Though this is still considered an act of treason in some corners, Greco insists a bridge is just a bridge. He was simply embracing an easier town for walking to restaurants, ice cream, galleries and such. One night, he was stopped a half-dozen times in a single block for people to take pictures of Mia and Bella, the two red poodles he was walking in a stroller.

He had the first surgery at Bayfront and later transferred to Florida Hospital Tampa because of connections there. More procedures followed because of complications. On Thursday, his surgeon stood by his bedside to tell him he was looking "much, much better." Being Greco, he was holding her hand at the time. Being Greco, he would hold hands with the two nurses, too, include one named Justin.

Greco said he let his condition go because there was so much else going on, so many other things to worry about. "I just wanted to pretend it would go away," he says. "I don't want people to make the same mistake."

He tells me this wearing a hospital gown that somehow manages to look jaunty. Even here he holds court, admiring his surgeon's cowboy boots, joking about whether those red poodles can visit as therapy dogs — and lamenting his loss of Gasparilla.

Even though they have kept his hospitalization on the down low, the phone keeps ringing and lush bouquets line the window ledge. One of them is addressed to "Suwannee Doe" — mysteriously, the pseudonym the hospital gave to preserve his privacy. It does not quite fit the man in the bed.

"I'd have given him a cooler name," offers his son, Hillsborough Judge Dick Greco Jr., from his bedside. "Like Rico Suave."

Tampa's storied mayor gets hospitalized — and a health lesson 01/28/16 [Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2016 8:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.
  2. Police pull unconscious New Port Richey man from SUV in Cotee River

    Accidents

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Police rescued an unconscious driver whose sport utility vehicle plunged into the Cotee River on Saturday.

  3. Analysis: Bannon is out, but his agenda may live on

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — In his West Wing office, Stephen Bannon kept a chart listing trade actions — on China, steel and autos — that the Trump White House planned to roll out, week by week, through the fall. Now that Bannon, the president's chief strategist, has been pushed out, the question is whether his …

    Steve Bannon thinks he could be more effective influencing policy from outside the White House.
  4. Trump to skip Kennedy Center Honors awards program

    Politics

    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Acknowledging that he has become a "political distraction," President Donald Trump has decided to skip the festivities surrounding the annual Kennedy Center Honors arts awards later this year, the White House announced Saturday amid the continuing fallout over Trump's stance on last weekend's …

  5. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times