Friends say Henry Hicks took an interest in helping people out of tough spots.
As a lawyer specializing in real estate, he represented clients facing foreclosure or similar issues. It was a "massive undertaking," particularly in recent years, said close friend Charles Greacen, but Hicks always sought practical solutions to ease people's burdens.
"He saw people who were in this nationwide conundrum and said, 'There's got to be a fix to this,' " Greacen said.
Hicks, 60, died Saturday while trying to retrieve the anchor to a 27-foot boat about 3 miles west of Anna Maria, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The cause of death is under investigation, officials said.
Hicks moved to Tampa in 1979 and formed the law offices of Henry W. Hicks in 1981, according to the office's website. The firm focuses on foreclosure defense and mortgage mitigation, through loan modifications and bankruptcies.
Associate attorney Adam Knight said Hicks worked with people who often thought they had no way out of financial strain.
"These same people were the ones that were here at our office yesterday, despite the fact that it was a Sunday and we were probably closed, to offer their condolences. … You don't see that from your typical attorney," Knight said.
Outside the office, Hicks had run various businesses, including a South Tampa seafood restaurant called Clawd's and a hotel. He also coached middle school basketball at St. John's Episcopal Day School, said Greacen, a cartoonist for the Tampa Bay Times.
Peter Donahoe, who serves as an attorney of counsel for the Hicks law office, said the two began working together when Hicks was dating Donahoe's sister, whom he would later marry.
"I would say gregarious, outgoing, very friendly," Donahoe said of Hicks' personality.
Donahoe, who lives in Indianapolis, would visit Hicks and his sister at their house in Anna Maria. He said Hicks also was great with his wife's family and Donahoe's brother and mother.
"He just treated us like his family because his own mother died when he was 15," he said.
According to his firm's website biography, Hicks was a North Carolina native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina and his law degree at Tulane University in New Orleans, and he was an adjunct professor in the graduate school of education at Nova University.
Greacen said Hicks' time in Louisiana made him a great cook of cuisine such as crawfish.
"He was just a versatile guy," Greacen said.
A service for Hicks will be at 3 p.m. Thursday at Hyde Park United Methodist Church at 500 W Platt St., followed directly by a reception at the Tampa Yacht and Country Club at 5320 Interbay Blvd.