Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Education, arts booster Marty Hirons dies

Marty Hirons created a spectacular garden in North Carolina.

Marty Hirons created a spectacular garden in North Carolina.

GOLFVIEW — In Tampa, people thought of Marty Hirons as a woman of energy and determination who had a knack for identifying community problems and finding solutions.

Mrs. Hirons, who passed away Aug. 28 at age 64 after a long illness, had a passion for education and the arts, and she worked hard to bolster both in her city. She founded the Florida Center for Contemporary Arts, which gave visual artists in Tampa one of their first opportunities to showcase their work, and co-founded SERVe, or School Enrichment Resource Volunteers, which provided expert speakers to local schools.

In Cashiers, N.C., where she spent about half her time in recent years, Mrs. Hirons was known as an artist, and her medium was plants and flowers. She created a spectacular garden, called the Horse Barn Garden, at the summer home she and her husband built there.

"She had charts and diagrams of where everything would go," said her husband, Fred Hirons III. "She would start all her plants from seeds here in Tampa, and then we'd take them up to North Carolina in a trailer. And I'm not talking about a few plants. I'm talking hundreds and hundreds of them."

Mrs. Hirons received one of the greatest honors of her life just this summer, when Southern Living magazine featured the Horse Barn Garden in the June issue.

She had a beautiful garden at her Tampa home, too. Her husband recalled a friend who noted that Mrs. Hirons could work in her garden all day and be covered with dirt, then go inside and emerge half an hour later looking elegant and pristine.

Mrs. Hirons was born and raised in South Tampa. When she was in her early teens, she moved to Atlanta. She was a student at Auburn University several years later when she attended a party at Georgia Tech. There, she met Fred Hirons, a South Tampa boy she had been vaguely acquainted with in her childhood.

"I didn't really know her in Tampa at all," Hirons said. "I had just seen her around."

They started dating and married a few years later. They moved first to Texas, where he finished his military duty, and then to Philadelphia, where he went to graduate school.

"She taught first grade in a blue-collar neighborhood of Philadelphia," her husband said. "One thing I remember is she taught those kids to sing Dixie."

They came back to Tampa for good in the late 1960s. After their two children were born, Mrs. Hirons went back to school and earned a degree in fine arts from the University of South Florida.

"She got to know all the artists at USF," Fred Hirons said. "They had great art, but they didn't have anywhere to show it." That led Mrs. Hirons to form the Florida Center for Contemporary Arts, which had a gallery in Hyde Park.

"Marty came up with the idea for this place and then spearheaded the development of it," her husband said. "And then her job was to get the money to keep it afloat."

She loved collecting antiques and decorating her family's home, next to the golf course in Palma Ceia.

Other than her home and her family, her passion was that garden in the Carolina mountains. She had been ill in recent years with pulmonary problems, and this year her health was so bad she almost didn't head north.

"I managed to get her up there about a month ago, so she got to see it one last time," her husband said. "That's something I'm really grateful for."

Besides her husband, Mrs. Hirons is survived by her son, Parker, her daughter, Hallett Parisi, two grandchildren and a sister.

Education, arts booster Marty Hirons dies 09/04/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 6, 2008 4:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Serena Williams, and all women, deserved better from John McEnroe

    Tennis

    John McEnroe might be the best sports analyst in broadcasting.

    Serena Williams makes a backhand return to her sister Venus during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in January in  Melbourne, Australia. [AP photo]
  2. Watch: Provocateur targets CNN producer with hidden camera video

    National

    NEW YORK —A conservative provocateur posted a video Tuesday of a man identified as a CNN producer commenting on his network's coverage of President Donald Trump and connections to Russia.

    Anthony Scaramucci, a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. [Associated Press]
  3. Protesters demand Confederate statue be moved from old Hillsborough courthouse

    News

    TAMPA – Politicians, clergy and community leaders demanded Tuesday that the Hillsborough County commission reverse course and remove a Confederate monument from the old county courthouse.

    (From left) Mike Reed, Kristen Perry and Dayna Lazarus hold protest signs Tuesday in front of a Confederate monument on the grounds of Hillsborough County's old courthouse. Protesters want the statue removed. ALESSANDRA DA PRA   Times]
  4. Man charged with threatening Florida lawmaker on Facebook

    Blogs

    From The Associated Press:

    MIAMI — A Florida man has been charged with threatening to kill a state legislator in a Facebook post. 

    This booking photo released by the Miami-Dade Police Department shows Steve St. Felix, who has been charged with threatening to kill Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in a Facebook post.
  5. Joe Maddon: What my time in Tampa Bay meant, and still means, to me

    The Heater

    Editor's note: The Rays next week in Chicago will meet up for the first time with former manager Joe Maddon, who is in his third year leading the Cubs after nine with the Rays. In advance of the Tuesday-Wednesday series, we asked Maddon to share his thoughts in a column on what his time in Tampa Bay meant to …

    Joe Maddon waits to greet B.J. Upton after Upton's home run in Game 2 of the ALCS in 2008 at Tropicana Field. [Times files (2008)]