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Retired Hillsborough school board attorney Crosby Few was dedicated to his work

TAMPA — Crosby Few spent almost four decades as the attorney for the Hillsborough County School District, one of the longest tenures in Florida's history.

He died Saturday at the age of 77.

"Mr. Few was just very much an icon to our school district," said Earl Lennard, Hillsborough's supervisor of elections and a former school superintendent who worked with Mr. Few for about 25 years.

"He never tried to be another board member or anything," Lennard said, "but he always wanted to ensure that students were taken care of and protected."

The school district's desegregation case and the 1968 teacher strike were among the high-profile cases Mr. Few handled over the years. He also represented the district when Rosa Martinez sued in 1986 to get her 7-year-old mentally handicapped daughter with AIDS in a classroom with other children.

He served on the Tampa Sports Authority when it built the original Tampa Stadium. He was a chairman of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

Mr. Few, who was divorced, is survived by three children: Terrin, married to former Bucs general manager Rich McKay, now president of the Atlanta Falcons; John, a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney; and Jennifer Burchill, assistant athletics director with the Hillsborough school district.

He had six grandchildren ranging in age from 15 to 28 and a great-granddaughter who is nearly 2.

"You couldn't have made them any better than him when it comes to how much he loved his family," Burchill said. "He was fiercely loyal to his people."

Lennard described Mr. Few as a "Southern gentleman" who was always courteous and loved sports.

Tom Gonzalez, a labor and employment lawyer in private practice who consulted with the school district, remembered him as a mentor to boys in his South Tampa neighborhood and an official at high school football games.

"He knew sports. He played just about every sport there was in high school and then some in college," he said. "He was a great tennis player. A great golfer."

During his long years in public service, Mr. Few built a statewide reputation.

"From Pensacola to Miami, if you were with Crosby in some courthouse, he was going to know a significant number of lawyers in that town," Gonzalez said.

Mr. Few grew up in New Smyrna Beach. His mother was a teacher, and his father an assistant railroad superintendent.

He attended the University of Florida and dreamed of playing professional baseball before he was drafted into the Korean War. Afterward, he went to law school at the University of Florida on the GI Bill.

After graduation, Few worked for a Sarasota law firm and later became a Hillsborough prosecutor. In 1965, he became an assistant county attorney, representing the school district and supervisor of elections. In 1967, superintendent Raymond Shelton hired Few as the school attorney.

"He worked very hard to ensure that the school district was cared for," Lennard said. "When he saw a rule that out of line or wasn't treating people fairly, he was quick to point it out."

When he retired, Mr. Few estimated he had attended about 1,500 school board meetings.

"The school system was his love," Burchill said.

A celebration of his life is scheduled for Sunday at 5 p.m. at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club. Memorial services are set for Monday at 10 a.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church.

Information from Times files was used in this report. Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

.BIOGRAPHY

Crosby Few

Born: June 7, 1933.

Died: Nov. 6, 2010.

Survivors: Daughter Terrin, and her husband Rich McKay; son John and his wife Irene; daughter Jennifer Burchill and her husband Sandy; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Retired Hillsborough school board attorney Crosby Few was dedicated to his work 11/08/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 3:16pm]
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