Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Paul Wallace

Dr. Paul Wallace loved speed, crusaded for safety

ST. PETERSBURG — Dr. Paul Wallace often bought unusual cars.

He had owned an antique fire truck, a Model T, and one of the first Jaguar XK-Es to hit the street.

But the prominent orthopedic surgeon who loved cars was best known for a dark blue 1938, nine-seat Cadillac that had chauffeured presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Dr. Wallace bought the "Queen Mary," as the car was dubbed, in 1956. It still had running boards, a jump seat and a case between the front and rear seats for machine guns.

He might have raced cars but wanted to be a doctor more. As it was, Dr. Wallace chaired racing organizations, serving as medical director for Sebring races for decades and as medical director for the first incarnation of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.

"Who are you to feel you can tell a man how to make his living?" he replied when a reporter challenged him about the sport's safety. "I don't feel as if I can."

Dr. Wallace, a former chief of staff at what is now All Children's Hospital, died May 22, several months after suffering a stroke. He was 92.

" 'Flamboyant' doesn't sound right, but he kind of was," said Jonnie Swann, his daughter. "He liked to make a scene and tell jokes."

He pulled over for car wrecks or even pursued them from home. "If you could hear a siren, we were out the door," said Swann, 64.

Her father was a founding member and president of the American Association for Automotive Medicine, which studied the effectiveness of safety devices such as seat belts and roll bars. "Then we realized that many of the things that were happening in racing to make it safe to continue as a sport were readily adaptable to ordinary use," he said in 1960.

Paul Fleugel Wallace was born in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 1921. After serving in the Army as a sergeant, he earned an M.D. from the University of Chicago. He moved to St. Petersburg in 1950 with his first wife.

Dr. Wallace married and divorced three times before marrying Rae Catlett in 2000.

He headed orthopedics at what is now Bayfront Medical Center, St. Anthony's Hospital and Mercy Hospital; and served as the first team physician for the fledgling Miami Dolphins in their 1966 training camp in St. Pete Beach.

In his spare time, he recruited Jimmy Appley, an engineer, to help customize his latest limousine. Dr. Wallace enjoyed a powerful look, requesting such additions as search lamps on each side, ornamental radio antennas, a dashboard siren and flashing red lights inside the grill.

They met when Appley broke his leg playing high school football in 1954. Dr. Wallace was the team physician. "He was always enthused by speed," said Appley, 74.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at or (727) 892-2248.


Dr. Paul Fleugel Wallace

Born: Feb. 2, 1921

Died: May 22, 2013

Survivors: wife, Rae; daughters Jonnie Swann, Patsy Buker, Diane Firestone, Nancy Reynoso and Holly Wallace; stepdaughter Maxine Solo; sons Paul Wallace and Art Hill; six granddaughters, one grandson; and two great-granddaughters.

Memorial Service: 11 a.m. July 19, Eckerd College chapel; 4200 54th Ave S, St. Petersburg.

Dr. Paul Wallace loved speed, crusaded for safety 06/05/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 7, 2013 7:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Drinking alcohol on St. Pete Beach beaches now allowed — for hotel guests only

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Guests at gulf-front hotels here can now drink alcoholic beverages in permitted hotel beach cabana areas.

    Guests relax on the beach near the Don Cesar at St. Pete Beach. Guests at gulf-front hotels in St. Pete Beach can now drink alcoholic beverages in permitted hotel beach cabana areas after the change was passed unanimously by the City Commission Tuesday night. Residents and other beachgoers who are not registered guests of the hotels continue to be barred from imbibing anywhere on the city's beaches.
  2. Man found floating in 'Cotee River in New Port Richey

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A body was found floating in the Pithlachascotee River on Tuesday morning, police said.

  3. More than 13,000 fact-checks later, PolitiFact celebrates 10-year mark


    ST. PETERSBURG — Bill Adair still remembers the moment when he realized his idea to fact-check politicians could turn into something big.

    (from left to right) Aaron Sharockman, Politifact executive director introduces a panel featuring Angie Holan, Politifact editor; PolitiFact founder Bill Adair and Tampa Bay Times Editor and Vice President Neil Brown at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The event celebrated 10 years of PolitiFact and its growth since 2007. The panel discussed the history of the organization and how it goes about fact-checking. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times]
  4. Trump, McConnell feud threatens GOP agenda


    The relationship between President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

    Sen. Mitch McConnell has fumed over Trump’s criticism.
  5. Former Sen. Greg Evers, advocate for law enforcement, dead at 62.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Former State Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Florida strawberry farmer and veteran politician, was killed in a single car crash hear his home in Okaloosa County. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the death late Tuesday, but deferred any further information pending an investigation. He was 62.

    Former Florida Senator Greg Evers, R- Milton, was a passionate advocate for law enforcement and corrections officers. He was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a car crash. He was 62. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]