Saturday, April 21, 2018
News Roundup

Eric Filson traveled an eclectic career path, devoured history

LARGO — Eric Filson had been to Chile, Italy, Greece and Tunisia. He had driven by himself out west to photograph whatever, only to return to his wife and his favorite place in the world, his blue recliner in the living room.

From there, he would make his way through U.S. history, from George Washington to the Civil War to LBJ, study road maps, sip his Coke and figure out which presidential library to visit next.

Mr. Filson, whose interest in everything led to several areas of expertise and a diverse career path, died Saturday. He was 71.

An award-winning newspaper reporter and editor, he left journalism to study accounting, then taught himself software analysis.

"What attracted me was his sense of sincerity," said Monique Filson, his wife since 1989. Mr. Filson, who had emerged from a childless first marriage, tried to teach his stepdaughters, then 13 and 14, the kind of curiosity that had guided his life.

"If we found a word in the newspaper we didn't know, wrote it down and gave the definition, he would give us a quarter," said stepdaughter Maureen Wingfield. "We could get $1.75 a week doing that."

A son of two college professors, Mr. Filson was born in Saginaw, Mich. He graduated from Michigan State University, then spent a year as a reporter for the Royal Oak Daily Tribune in Michigan. He moved to the Gainesville Sun as a reporter and city editor, his local stories often reflecting broader tensions over civil rights or the Vietnam war.

Then he went back to school, earning an accounting degree from Florida State University. Before long, Mr. Filson had discovered he was also interested in computers. He spent the last 25 years of his career at what is now St. Petersburg College, retiring in 2006 as a senior computer analyst.

All the while, he read U.S. history. He leaned Democratic despite having no party affiliation, but was equally eager to visit the presidential libraries of Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton. When President Gerald Ford died in 2006, stepdaughter Wingfield, who lives in Baltimore, agreed to photograph the proceedings for him.

He had planned to do much more traveling with his wife. Then two years ago, doctors said he was becoming affected by an unclassified dementia. He entered East Bay Rehabilitation Center after a fall, and died there Saturday.

His stepdaughter, now 37 and a civil and environmental engineer, credits Mr. Filson with broadening her horizons. Once a shy teen, Wingfield took up the clarinet after her stepfather bought her one. Before long, she was a soloist.

"He said that while others may tell me this was a useless hobby it really wasn't," she said, "because you wanted to be well-rounded and a Renaissance woman. That way you have something to talk about to anybody."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.

Comments
Cops used dead man's finger in attempt to unlock his phone

Cops used dead man's finger in attempt to unlock his phone

Most people agree what the Largo detectives did at the funeral home was legal. What they diverge on is whether it was appropriate.
Updated: 10 minutes ago
A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

The young man in a white jail jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled, looked past the throng of reporters pointing microphones toward his face, barely opening his mouth as he answered questions."I shot through the door," he said, looking at a female repor...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Man who attacked woman and stole her shorts arrested, deputies say

Man who attacked woman and stole her shorts arrested, deputies say

Deputies arrested a man they said tackled a woman in February and removed her shorts before fleeing.Robert Mark Hembree Jr., 31, was arrested late Friday. He faces charges of sexual battery and petit theft.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Detectives seek man who a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Dade City man killed in early morning hit-and-run, police say

Dade City man killed in early morning hit-and-run, police say

A Pasco County man was struck and killed in an apparent hit-and-run early Saturday, police said.Thomas Michael Burdeshaw, 53, who lived on Sundance Drive in Dade City, was hit about 1:45 a.m. on the 36000 block of Blanton Road, police said.Witnesses ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

When Samantha Hess’s marriage ended five years ago, she felt she was lacking a basic human need: Physical touch. As a woman in her late 20s living in Portland, Oregon, she found plenty of men interested in dating, but sexual contact was not what she ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Police searching for person who shot a man to death in Largo

Police searching for person who shot a man to death in Largo

CLEARWATER — Police are looking for a person who shot and killed a man late Friday at the Melrose on the Bay apartments on Bolesta Road. Ricardo Guzman, 32, called 911 just before midnight and told the operator he had been shot, said Lt. Randall Chan...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Motorcyclist dies after crash on Memorial Highway

Motorcyclist dies after crash on Memorial Highway

TAMPA — A motorcyclist driving north on Memorial Highway died after he crashed into a guard rail late Friday, police said."The man failed to negotiate a curve in the road and struck a guard rail," said Lt. Brett Owen. "No other vehicle was involved i...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely unable to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother,...
Updated: 7 hours ago
After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

TAMPA — Confronted in late 2017 with reports of misconduct by substitute teachers hired through a contractor, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins said he would ask tough questions and demand answers. He had his lawyer, Jeff Gibson, ...
Published: 04/21/18