Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Friends and family pay last respects to former sheriff

Pallbearers salute the flag-draped coffin of retired Hillsborough County Sheriff Walter C. Heinrich before it is loaded into a hearse outside Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz on Saturday. Heinrich, who was sheriff 14 years, died Feb. 15 at age 83.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Pallbearers salute the flag-draped coffin of retired Hillsborough County Sheriff Walter C. Heinrich before it is loaded into a hearse outside Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz on Saturday. Heinrich, who was sheriff 14 years, died Feb. 15 at age 83.

TAMPA — Many of the police, deputies, judges and politicians at Walter C. Heinrich's funeral Saturday remembered a man who reformed local jails, arrested murderers and recovered millions in stolen property while serving as Hillsborough County sheriff.

But during the service, family members offered another glimpse into the life of the man who served as sheriff for 14 years, until he retired in 1993.

His son, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Walter "Buzzy" Heinrich, recalled a father who loved to play practical jokes. One night at a restaurant, he used a gag gift to make flatulence sounds, much to the chagrin of his new daughter-in-law.

"He kept us in stitches," "Buzzy" Heinrich said.

His daughter, Cindy Basham Guyton, spoke of a man who held his family together for 72 hours, until they received news that Guyton's sister, Linda Bookin, hadn't boarded a plane that had crashed in Peru, as she had planned.

Sheriff David Gee shared stories about a retired sheriff who worked on cold cases in his spare time and occasionally called to make sure deputies were following protocol.

Heinrich's grandson said he was proud to have a grandfather who was also his friend.

"He was the kind of grandfather you wanted to bring to show and tell. … He was the type of person we all strived to be," said "Buzzy" Heinrich's son, Justin Heinrich.

Walter C. Heinrich died Monday of a heart attack. He was 83.

About 400 people attended the service at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, including former and current judges, Tampa police and Sheriff's Office officials.

After the service, an honor guard carried out the casket as bagpipers played Amazing Grace. The sounds of a 21-gun salute, taps and a four-helicopter flyover pierced the air. Then, the hearse drove to Garden of Memories Cemetery.

"Buzzy" Heinrich said Monday was a very emotional day. At first, he was angry that his father died.

"I felt like my dad was my best friend," he said.

Heinrich carried a bag of remembrances to the lectern. He pulled out a bunch of handcuff keys his dad had saved and his first captain's badge from his years at the Tampa Police Department.

He shared quotes from his dad's 1944 high school yearbook. He discovered the book Tuesday and opened it, seeking a window into his father's past.

"You know? Back when you were dumb and young," he said.

He learned that his dad was vice president of a Christian club. A teacher penned a note thanking him for his "friendly cooperation." And he had lofty ambitions of patenting a new embalming method.

He also had an inscription from a girl named Lucy, who wrote "Good luck in the Navy, and don't forget my address." The crowd chuckled.

"He was a great man, a born leader, a gentleman," "Buzzy" Heinrich said. "He was the best of the best."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Friends and family pay last respects to former sheriff 02/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 20, 2010 11:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: Genshaft right to oust USF St. Petersburg leader

    Editorials

    In times of crisis, leaders cannot abandon ship and be unclear about their whereabouts. That is essentially what the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg did with Hurricane Irma headed this way. Sophia Wisniewska's actions fell short of what should be expected from an experienced administrator …

    Sophia Wisniewska’s actions fell short of what should be expected from an experienced administrator responsible for the safety of her students and the security of her campus, and the move by USF president Judy Genshaft, above, to fire her was appropriate.
  2. Duke Energy Florida president answers questions about utility's response to Irma

    Hurricanes

    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than a week since Hurricane Irma knocked out power to millions of Floridians, Duke Energy announced it will finish its restoration efforts Tuesday.

    Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris greets St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Tuesday at a news conference where both spoke about Hurricane Irma recovery. The event was held at a Florida Department of Transportation lot next to Maximo Park in St. Petersburg, where the city is collecting Irma yard debris which will be mulched and sold to a local tomato farmer. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Leaves, mountains, ice cream and cheese: What's not to like in Burlington, Vt.?

    Travel

    If I loved Burlington, Vt., during a visit with my daughter when the high was 37 degrees, I feel completely comfortable recommending the city as a great destination for fall, when it's considered one of the top leaf-watching spots in the world.

    Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont is the sixth-oldest college established in New England.
  4. Puerto Ricans in Tampa Bay wait with dread as Hurricane Maria approaches island

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — As Hurricane Maria swirled in the Atlantic Ocean, Sarykarmen Rivera got a phone call from her parents in Puerto Rico. They had an ominous message.

    Sarykarmen Rivera sits for a portrait with a picture of herself and her family in her hometown of Guayama, Puerto Rico, while at the Univision studios in Tampa on Tuesday. Rivera's mother, father, and extended family are currently in Puerto Rico and she worries about their safety as Hurricane Maria approaches. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. Early estimates peg Hurricane Irma damage at as much as $65B

    Banking

    The damage totals from Hurricane Irma are still being tallied, but early numbers are in: As of Tuesday, the storm is estimated to have caused between $42.5 billion and $65 billion of damage. That's according to a Tuesday release by Irvine, Calif.-based analytics company CoreLogic.

    Hurricane Irma is estimated to have caused up to $65 billion in damage, said analytics company CoreLogic. Pictured is 
Hermilo Munoz Castillo as wades down a flooded street to check on his home in southern Collier County, Fla. after Hurricane Irma passed. | [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]