Monday, February 19, 2018
News Roundup

"Mayor of South Tampa" Ellis Michael dies

INTERBAY — Around the neighborhood, Ellis Michael was known as "the mayor of South Tampa."

"You'd walk into Home Depot or Loew's or Sam's Club and everyone knew him," said his brother Greg Michael. "If you come down here and talk to anybody, they knew him. They all came to him for advice. He always had a joke, always had a story. Everybody loved him."

Mr. Michael would have turned 69 this week. On Jan. 10, he didn't make his regular 7 a.m. phone call to his longtime girlfriend Diane Pandich. She went to his house and found him lying on the floor, next to his bed, clutching his chest. He had died very suddenly from a heart attack.

"He was active right up until the end," his brother said. "It was the way he would have wanted to go. He wouldn't have made a good patient in a hospital."

Mr. Michael had lived in South Tampa since he was a teenager. He showed passion and a talent for creative endeavors from an early age and ultimately made a living as a woodworker through his company Mi-Ken Creations. He operated out of a barn he built in his back yard and specialized in custom furniture and cabinetry. But he was also adept at painting, sculpture, metalwork and pottery.

"The woodworking was a way to pay the bills," said his sister Brenda Michael Hodges.

Homes and business around Tampa feature his art and woodwork. Pandich, in fact, met him seven years ago when he was recommended as the best person in town to remodel her kitchen. Pandich said it was a drab and tiny kitchen when he first saw it, but by the time he finished, "it looked like the kitchen in an upscale home."

Pandich and Mr. Michael were drawn together almost instantly, she said. Mr. Michael had been married when he was a young man — his wife Patricia died of cancer when she was about 30, after just two years of marriage — but in Pandich he said he had found his soul mate.

"Our mother died young," his brother said, "and Ellis would say that he thought our mother had sent Diane to him, because she was the perfect woman for him."

When his family started going through his belongings after Mr. Michael died, they found a trove of how-to books. Mr. Michael possessed an insatiable curiosity and always wanted to learn new skills. And then he loved sharing what he learned with his neighbors.

"If you needed anything, you knew he was the one to come to," his brother said. "He had all these books because he loved to teach people how to do things."

His memorial service lasted longer than the family expected because so many people were eager to get up and talk about how Mr. Michael had touched their lives.

It wasn't unusual for Mr. Michael to notice a new product, maybe something used in construction, and drive to the factory to learn everything he could about it.

"His mind worked differently than most people's, because he was an artist," Pandich said. "We'd be in the car and I'd be driving along and he'd notice everything. He'd say something about the way a tree curved. He never stopped learning, and he never stopped teaching."

Besides his brother Greg and his sister Brenda, Mr. Michael is survived by his sister Pamela Hampton.

Marty Clear writes life stories about Tampa residents who have recently died. He can be reached at mcl[email protected]

Comments
Top 5 at noon: Why Parkland students have emerged as a powerful political voice; unlicensed contractors arrested after Pinellas sting; and more

Top 5 at noon: Why Parkland students have emerged as a powerful political voice; unlicensed contractors arrested after Pinellas sting; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.WHY PARKLAND STUDENTS HAVE EMERGED AS A POWERFUL POLITICAL VOICEThe boldest voices to emerge in the wake of last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland have ...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
From eyeball worms to a ‘frat house’ fire department, the top quotes from last week’s Tampa Bay Times

From eyeball worms to a ‘frat house’ fire department, the top quotes from last week’s Tampa Bay Times

From parasitic worms to the Parkland school shooting to a fire department run like a "frat house," your top quotes from last week’s Tampa Bay Times.• "You see cases where there are cysts full of fertilized eggs all over the brain. Luckily we caught i...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The small gun shop that sold the weapon to the alleged high school shooter ‘closes indefinitely.’

The small gun shop that sold the weapon to the alleged high school shooter ‘closes indefinitely.’

The aftermath of the horrific mass shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has led to the closure of one small business.According to the Miami Herald, the owners of Sunrise Tactical Supply, the Coral Springs, Florida shop that auth...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Fergie’s NBA All-Star Game national anthem confuses, amuses

Fergie’s NBA All-Star Game national anthem confuses, amuses

LOS ANGELES — Fergie tried something different with her national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game, and not everybody was cheering.The Black Eyed Peas singer's slow, bluesy rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" on Sunday night wasn't particular...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Petersburg set to rename main library after President Obama

St. Petersburg set to rename main library after President Obama

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is set to announce that the city’s main library will be renamed after former President Barack Obama.The announcement that the facility will be renamed after the nation’s first African-American president has been t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
U.S. women’s hockey team back in gold medal game after 5-0 win over Finland

U.S. women’s hockey team back in gold medal game after 5-0 win over Finland

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The Americans played their way back into the only women’s hockey game that matters: a showdown with Canada for the Olympic gold medal. The Americans are back in the title game for a third straight Olympics after ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, reported missing in Manatee County

Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, reported missing in Manatee County

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is searching for the 12-year-old sister of a murder victim who was reported missing on Sunday night. Deputies say Jalyssa Shannon left her Manatee County home around 9 p.m. Her mother, Michelle Mosley, repor...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Weekend Roundup: Three things that blew up on social media

Weekend Roundup: Three things that blew up on social media

From cultural pride to political criticism, the internet has been a firestorm this weekend. For those who stepped away from their phones or computer screens for a breath of fresh air, here are some of the stories that blew up over the past few days.•...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Goodbye, Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Goodbye, Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson

The Rays continue their salary dump as they trade Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a Single-A shortstop and designate All-Star Corey Dickerson for assignment, saving about $10 million in the process.In his latest podcast, Rick Stroud breaks down the mo...
Updated: 3 hours ago
'Black Panther' blows past expectations, sets box-office record

'Black Panther' blows past expectations, sets box-office record

NEW YORK — A wave of feverish anticipation, fawning critical acclaim and groundbreaking cultural meaning pushed "Black Panther" to a record-setting $192 million debut in U.S. and Canada theaters, firmly establishing the superhero sensation as a...
Updated: 3 hours ago