DADE CITY — Robert Dew was nothing if not dedicated.
When the Pioneer Florida Museum Board needed someone to finally pull together a Pasco County history book that had been years in the making, Mr. Dew said he was up to the job.
"He was really proud of his heritage from Pasco County and his family," said his son, Greg, a teacher and head football coach at Paul Smith Middle School.
Mr. Dew, himself a retired teacher, devoted himself full time to the book since last year. He had it nearly finished when he died of a heart attack Monday (March 24, 2008.) He was 65.
"He spent an average of 16 hours a day on it," said his older brother, Wilbur, a member of the museum board who got Robert involved in the nonprofit agency dedicated to preserving Pasco history.
Mr. Dew, who grew up in Dade City but had since moved to Bradenton, returned to work on the book and at times lived in Wilbur's motor home on the museum grounds.
"He may have worked too hard on it," Wilbur said.
Mr. Dew was the youngest son in a family of nine children. His father's family came to Pasco on New Year's Eve of 1912; his mother's family arrived between 1908 and 1910, Wilbur said. The Dew children grew up in the LeHeup Hill area off Fort King Road.
Mr. Dew graduated from the University of Florida and became a math teacher. He spent some time living in Georgia and moved to Bradenton in 2003. Wilbur, a longtime board member of the museum, got Robert involved in volunteering at fundraising festivals. Soon Robert was coming up several days a week to volunteer.
"He was our chief weed puller," museum director Christine Smith said. She said visitors often sought out Mr. Dew, a history buff, for genealogy advice.
"I think he spent more time talking to visitors than pulling weeds," Smith said.
She said the museum board was shocked and saddened to learn of Mr. Dew's death. Board members plan on completing the book and dedicating it to his memory.
"Volunteers will pick up the torch and carry it," Smith said.
Mr. Dew was a Vietnam-era veteran of the Army. In addition to his son, Greg, and his brother, Wilbur, survivors include Greg's wife, Kimberly, of New Port Richey; a daughter, Dr. Laura Kaplan, and her husband, Michael, of Houston; five siblings, David Dew and his wife, Lynn, of St. Louis, Jim Dew, and his wife, Vivian, of Santa Barbara, Calif., Wilbur's wife, Patsy, of Dade City, John Dew and his wife, Bernice, of Tampa and Virginia, Dew Blake and her husband, Norman, of Dade City; and three grandchildren. He was preceded in death by three siblings, Joy Dew Russell, Max Dew and George Dew.
The funeral is set for noon today in the Fifth Street Chapel of Hodges Family Funeral Home. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to the Pioneer Florida Museum.
Lisa Buie can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 909-4604.