Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Eric Malcolm Filson

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 ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248.

.Biography

Eric Malcolm Filson

Born: Jan. 31, 1941

Died: May 5, 2012

Survivors: wife, Monique; stepdaughter Maureen Wingfield; sister, Harolyn VanEvery.

Service: 5 p.m. today; National Cremation Society, 4945 East Bay Drive, Clearwater.

Eric Filson traveled an eclectic career path, devoured history 05/09/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 9:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Whatever USF has to say about Temple waits till Thursday

    College

    "The holes were wide open. Anyone could have run through them."

    South Florida Bulls cornerback Mazzi Wilkins (23) intercepts a pass during the second half of the home opener for the South Florida Bulls against the Stony Brook Seawolves at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. 'Rick and Morty' Rickmobile is coming to Tampa next week

    Events

    We now have details on when and where Rick and Morty's belching Rickmobile will be when the rolling promo for the cult hit Adult Swim show swings through Tampa on Sept. 27.

    Ricky and Morty fans will head to the Lowry Parcade and Tavern in Tampa on Sept. 27 where a pop-up merch store that will operate out of a Rick Sanchez-shaped truck.
  3. Joe Henderson: Other good works can't balance theft from vulnerable victims

    Columns

    What price can you put on your good name?

    This renovated group home once was operated by HARC. The group's former CEO Richard Lilliston was credited with raising millions for the agency but has been sentenced to prison for stealing Social Security from clients with developmental disabilities. [Times file]
  4. Clean Bandit postpones Oct. 3 concert at the State Theatre until 2018

    Blogs

    Believe it or not, here's a concert postponement that DOESN'T have anything to do with Hurricane Irma.

    Clean Bandit
  5. Five reasons why Kentucky can beat Florida for the first time since 1986

    College

    By Matt Baker

    GAINESVILLE — Florida's 30-game winning streak over Kentucky is one of the most impressive feats in the country.

    Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey (73) celebrates Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson's  (24) touch down in the first quarter, putting Florida on the board 6-0 during the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times