Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Lillian Morgan Trickel

As other retailers fled downtown Clearwater, Lillian Trickel's store remained

CLEARWATER — Trickels Jewelers opened in 1945, a time when customers flocked to the downtown area like fish to a reef. For 30 years, the store was surrounded by retailers for shoes, men's and women's clothing, a bakery, gifts shops and a department store.

Then came shopping malls, road widening projects and a controversial presence called Scientology.

Many businesses left. Lillian Trickel stayed.

"I couldn't go," she said in 2005, the year the city acknowledged her 60 years of civic involvement. "I loved the people. I couldn't be working this many years if I didn't like the people."

Mrs. Trickel and her husband, William, offered a personal touch along with the best flatware and crystal. They settled into a building on Cleveland Street with enough parking. Instead of fleeing the Scientologists, she sold them jewelry.

Mrs. Trickel, the soul of the longest-running retailer in downtown Clearwater, died March 7. She was 92.

"She was a very strong proponent of downtown. She felt it was important that downtown stay a part of the city," said Rita Garvey, Clearwater's mayor from 1987 to 1999.

Mrs. Trickel set the mood, from greeting customers to setting up lavish china and crystal wedding registries for upscale clients and show-stopping Christmas decorations every year.

"By the time (customers) walked to the back of the store, at least three people had offered to wait on them," longtime friend Margaret Hyde said.

"If she shook your hand on something, you could take it to the bank," said Sarah Brown Caudell, whose family owned the Brown Bros. Building on Cleveland Street from 1935 to 2005.

A member of the Downtown Development Board during the 1980s and 1990s, Mrs. Trickel clashed frequently with the city. When officials in 1987 proposed lining Cleveland Street with oak trees, she said she preferred palms.

When they chose oaks anyway, she threatened to cut down any oak trees planted in front of her store at 714 Cleveland St.

When some commissioners voted to strip the board of its ability to tax downtown property owners, she accused them of trying "to destroy a board that has been in existence for 23 years, just to satisfy their egos."

"She loved the city even though she got into disagreements," said daughter Debbie King, who now runs Trickels Jewelers.

A native of Cleveland, Tenn., Mrs. Trickel attended business school and a gemological school. She met William while visiting friends in Philadelphia. They married around 1935.

The couple opened Trickels Jewelers at 24 Garden Ave. S in 1945. They moved three times since, settling in 1979 at its current location. They took their Doberman, Misty, to work with them, where William served as the store's watchmaker and jeweler. The Trickels never vacationed; the closest they came were weekend trips to Caladesi Island on a 42-foot cabin cruiser.

The store thrived on little advertising other than word of mouth and a habit of giving to all charities. Mrs. Trickel did not flinch as uniformed Scientologists showed up in increasing numbers. "If we could get them out of the uniforms and just get them to mingle with people, they wouldn't stand out so much and there wouldn't be any controversy," she told the Times in 1994.

In 1996, her 58-year-old son, Billy Trickel, a lawyer and municipal judge in Orlando, had a heart attack and died. Her husband died three months later at 83. Mrs. Trickel created a memory garden by the store and surrounded it with a wrought-iron fence.

In 2005, Clearwater officials awarded Mrs. Trickel a key to the city. Since her death at the Oaks of Clearwater on March 7, city officials — some of whom she sometimes battled — are remembering a blunt-spoken woman who cared about downtown.

"She had a business to run," Garvey said. "She knew how to do it, and she did it."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at ameacham@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2248.

. BIOGRAPHY

Lillian Morgan Trickel

Born: Aug. 19, 1917.

Died: March 9, 2010.

Survivors: Daughter Deborah King; sister Evelyn Barger and her husband Jim; four grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews.

Service: To be arranged.

As other retailers fled downtown Clearwater, Lillian Trickel's store remained 03/13/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 13, 2010 8:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Petersburg's ballooning sewage debt could threaten credit rating (but there's a Hail Mary plan to avoid that)

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city needs a lot of money — $435 million over the next five years — most of it to fix its leaky sewer pipes and aging sewer plants.

    In September 2016, signs at St. Petersburg's North Shore Park warned people to stay out of the water due to contamination from sewage released by the city's overwhelmed sewer system. The City Council on Thursday learned that the very expensive fix for its sewage woes could hamper the city's credit rating. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Pinellas County receives $30 million for beach renourishment

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– While Pinellas beaches continually rank among the best in America, they need help to stay that way.

    The Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $30 million to help with beach renourishment at several Pinellas locations, including including Sand Key, Treasure Island and Upham Beach. This photo from 2014 shows how waves from high tides caused beach erosion at Sunset Beach near Mansions by the Sea condominium complex SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  3. Straz Center parking squeeze infuriates patrons, motivates search for solutions

    Transportation

    TAMPA — When the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts opened 30 years ago, it welcomed just 30,000 patrons its first year.

    Fireworks shoot into the sky over the David A. Straz Jr. Center For The Performing Arts. [SCOTT MCINTYRE, Times]
  4. Video shows naked man who stole swan sculpture in Lakeland, deputies say

    Crime

    The Polk County Sheriff's Office is searching for a large swan sculpture that was stolen from a Lakeland cold storage facility last weekend, possibly by a naked man.

    The Polk County Sheriff's Office says this naked man stole a large black and white swan sculpture, upper right, from a Lakeland storage facility last weekend. Surveillance video showed the man walking into Lakeland Cold Storage. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Fennelly: Dirk Koetter's apology no way to keep this fidget spinning

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It all began with a fidget spinner.

    This tweet from the Bucs, mocking the Falcons' 28-3 lead they lost in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, prompted a public apology from head coach Dirk Koetter, who called it "unprofessional and not smart."