TAMPA — Haven Poe, known as an advocate for children, neighborhoods and growth management as a Hillsborough County commissioner in the 1980s, died Sunday of Alzheimer's disease. She was 82.
Mrs. Poe, born in Haines City, moved to Tampa as a teenager. Married for 57 years to Charles Poe, who survives her, she became known for her volunteer work for the Hillsborough County Juvenile Detention Center, Children's Services of Hillsborough County, Travelers Aid Society and her service on the University of Tampa board of trustees.
She was elected to the Tampa City Council in 1979 for two terms, then served on the County Commission from 1986 to 1990.
"She was as authentic a person as you would ever want to meet,'' said Barbara Stefany, longtime friend and campaign manager during Mrs. Poe's first run for City Council. "She was very smart and thought things through, and always seemed to be able to put her finger on the one thing you had missed. She was so thorough in her ability to apprise any situation.''
She had high expectations, said Richard Tribunella, who as former director of Children's Services worked closely with Mrs. Poe when she was a commissioner. "When you laid out a plan of action, she expected you to follow through on it.''
She also was creative, he added, noting that Mrs. Poe started the county's "Safe Place'' program, where food establishments and other venues post signs letting runaways know that from those locations they could get in contact with agencies that would help them.
Jan Platt, who served on the County Commission with Poe, described her a serious-minded public servant who was "very dedicated to the issues that she felt were important.''
Still, she was "the life of the party'' in her private life, said Jennifer Poe Wolf, one of her two daughters. She remembers her mom as someone "who loved life and loved people and loved her family more than anything.''
Wolf recalled family trips to the beach each summer where, during one of the nights, her mother would grab the kids and toss them fully clothed into the water. "Every year, we would look forward to what night is mom going to do that,'' she said.
Wolf said many of her friends from the Academy of Holy Names remember when Mrs. Poe let all 71 girls in Wolf's senior class come over for a slumber party just before graduation, as she had done for Wolf's sister, Lynn Reynolds.
"We were all over the floor, and it was a school night,'' Wolf recalled. In the morning, "we had Krispy Kreme doughnuts and went off to school.''
In addition to her husband and daughters, Mrs. Poe is survived by five grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned for 3 p.m. today at Hyde Park Presbyterian Church, 1309 W Swann Ave.
Philip Morgan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3435.