Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue

George E. Locascio

From his wheelchair and crutches, George Locascio fought for the disabled

ST. PETERSBURG — The battle began for George E. Locascio after he left the Navy.

Having contracted polio at 19 while serving on a PT boat in the South China Sea, Locascio returned to an America that marginalized those with disabilities. While he walked with crutches or used a wheelchair for the rest of his life, Mr. Locascio became the brawn and the voice for those with disabilities.

Mr. Locascio lobbied public officials, served on community boards and sued those who refused to obey the law by making their buildings accessible.

Mr. Locascio, 83, died from a severe infection about 1 p.m. Saturday.

"George was a tireless advocate," said Tish Elston, St. Petersburg's city administrator. "On his own, he would go to any facility, public or private where the community had access, and if there were concerns, he always called the city. Access for those with disabilities, that was his passion."

His wife of 17 years, Dorothy, 74, said everyone knew about her husband's concern for the disabled.

"It was even on his business card that he was an advocate for the disabled," she said.

Paul Locascio said his father was never bitter about contracting polio and being paralyzed from the waist down as a result.

"He used it like a stepping-off point to go beyond, well beyond, what you expected," Paul Locascio said. "He saw himself as an individual with capabilities who was not to be defined by disabilities."

A father of two sons and a daughter, Mr. Locascio worked at Times Publishing, which owns the St. Petersburg Times, from 1968 until 1981. He was an assistant manager of commercial services, said Dorothy Locascio. His first wife, Breverly, and a daughter preceded him in death.

For many years, Mr. Locascio worked with Abilities of Florida, a Clearwater-based organization that provides vocational evaluation, skills training, and job placement services to those with disabilities. He also served on the board of the Abilities Foundation.

At Abilities of Florida, Mr. Locascio made it a point to hire workers who had disabilities.

"George was way out in front of the disability movement in terms of making sure people with disabilities had access to everything a community had to offer," said Frank DeLucia, 61, and the president and CEO of Abilities Foundation. "From employment to entertainment, he just wanted to make sure that someone's disability didn't stand in way of someone's quest to be an independent and contributing citizen."

In 1988, Mr. Locascio sued the city of St. Petersburg over accessibility of the then-Suncoast Dome to disabled people. The suit resulted in the city spending $600,000 to $700,000 on features that included more widely dispersed wheelchair seating and improvements to bathrooms and concession areas.

In 1995, Mr. Locascio filed a complaint with the Justice Department contending that the city failed to provide adequate parking for disabled vans when converting the old Florida Federal building into a downtown government facility.

In 1999, Mr. Locascio battled BayWalk's Muvico to ensure that the movie theater had proper seating for those in wheelchairs. A few years later, Mr. Locascio took on the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays to make sure that Tropicana Field was accessible to those with disabilities.

Tom McLean and Mr. Locascio were neighbors for more than 50 years. McLean, 85, said his neighbor was a dedicated spokesperson for the disabled here and around the state.

"If he found something that was making life difficult for the disabled, officials heard about it," McLean said. "And as far as I know, he usually won. He was just a regular bulldog at seeing that disabled people got a fair shake. Not more than what they deserved, but a fair shake."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes or (727)445-4174.

Biography

George E. Locascio

Born: Feb. 22, 1926

Died: Dec. 5, 2009

Survivors: Wife Dorothy; sons Paul and Stephen

Viewing: 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, 2201 Dr. M.L. King St. N, St. Petersburg

Mass: 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Paul Catholic Church, 1800 12th St. N, St. Petersburg

Donations can be made to: B & G Endowment, which was started in honor of George Locascio's first wife. Breverly. The endowment helps those with disabilities who fall on hard times and can't pay bills.

From his wheelchair and crutches, George Locascio fought for the disabled 12/06/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 7, 2009 12:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    Victor Hedman, far left, is especially happy to see Steven Stamkos back after Stamkos assists on his goal 33 seconds into the game vs. the Predators.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.