Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs icon Blaine LeCouris dies at 87

TARPON SPRINGS — Blaine LeCouris, a man who held almost every high-profile job in town besides mayor, died Thursday. He was 87.

LeCouris, a former Tarpon Springs police chief, city manager and the father of current city manager Mark LeCouris, had been in declining health for several years, said his granddaughter, Angela Filippone.

He had been in hospice care for the past week and died at 4:30 a.m., surrounded by family at the Gulfside Center for Hospice at Trinity Regional Rehab Center.

He was known throughout the community for his down-home style and bold personality.

"He was always a good man," said Tarpon Mayor David Archie. "He was a straight shooter with me. If he said he was going to do something, he would. He always cared about the city."

Former mayor Anita Protos called him a "true Tarponite" and an "encyclopedia" on running the city and on its history.

"You just don't find 'em like Blaine LeCouris anymore," said Protos, 69, who served on the City Commission in the late 1980s and 1990s.

He was no pushover, but he had a knack for diplomacy, according to Dorothy Pappas, former deputy city clerk.

"He's the type of person that could tell you off to your face and you'd leave smiling," said Pappas, who worked with him for about 30 years.

LeCouris also got a bit of attention for his unique way with words.

Former Tarpon city attorney Herb Elliott, who also forged a long friendship with LeCouris, joked that he spoke "LeCourian."

Olga Sowchuk, former planning and zoning director, said she relished his colloquial comments, like, "Honey, this ain't no dress rehearsal."

Feelings ran strong about LeCouris during his tenure with the city. Not everyone was a fan. At the time, some felt he signified the city's past more than its future.

He served two years as an investigator for the Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender's Office before he became Tarpon's police chief in 1975. He was appointed as acting city manager in 1984 and permanently took the job the following year. In January 1987, he was dismissed as city manager following a power shift on the commission. At the time, he contended that the commission ousted him to bring in someone more malleable.

His son, Mark, has followed a similar career path. He served as the city's police chief since 1993 and was named city manager in 2009.

Blaine LeCouris, a Tarpon Springs native who graduated from Tarpon High School, was a sponge diver in the early 1940s. He served in the Navy during World War II.

He joined the Tarpon Springs police force in 1946, leaving it a few years later to work for the Clearwater Police Department, where he was a motorcycle officer. He served more than 20 years on the force, retiring as a major.

He also worked seven years as chief of security at Pappas Restaurant and trained race horses for a short period of time.

In 1991, he was elected to the City Commission. Four years later, he resigned to run for mayor, but Protos defeated him. He then lost to Archie in a 1996 race for a commission seat.

A couple of years later, LeCouris said he was tired of politics and moved with his wife Alice to a home in Pasco County, where he used a chain saw and sledgehammer to remove the wall between two small bedrooms to create a large one.

"I can spend a little more time with my family, with my dogs, with the kids, with the country, and enjoy it," he said then.

LeCouris met Alice, his wife of 46 years, when he was a Clearwater police officer. She worked in the records department, their son, Paul, said.

LeCouris had fought prostate cancer for a while and had been cancer free for a while, but it took its toll, according to Paul LeCouris, 34. His father also suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic bronchitis, he said.

About a year and a half ago, LeCouris and his wife sold their Holiday home and bought a larger one in New Port Richey with Paul LeCouris, who resigned from his job in title insurance to take care of his parents.

Filippone worked with her grandfather at City Hall when he was city manager and police chief, because she worked as secretary for Sowchuk and for Elliott.

"We always say he was larger than life," said Filippone, 50, of her grandfather. "He was very tall and loud and full of life, always."

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

. Biography

Blaine LeCouris

Born: Jan. 29, 1923

Died: Jan. 13, 2011

Survivors include his wife, Alice; three sons, Blaine, Mark and Paul; two daughters, Janice Patterson and Laura Westner; seven grandchildren; four great grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren.

Visitation is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday at Vinson Funeral Home. The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at the First United Methodist Church, 501 E Tarpon Ave.

Tarpon Springs icon Blaine LeCouris dies at 87 01/13/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 7:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.