Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Patrick Albert, driven from New Orleans by Katrina, beloved at St. Stephen

VALRICO — Patrick Albert spent his last years here, raised his kids here and had countless close friends here. He loved his life here, but his heart remained in his native New Orleans.

"He grew up on boats," his wife, Sylvia, said. "Sailboats and motorboats. Every Sunday his family would go to church, grab some chicken for lunch and go out on the boat. He loved New Orleans so much. He got here and said, 'Where's the water?' He couldn't imagine living with no water around."

It took Hurricane Katrina to get Mr. Albert to leave New Orleans. In the seven years since, he never really had the chance to start his life over.

"It was a hit-or-miss thing on our street, and our house was one of the hits," Sylvia Albert said. "We didn't want to leave. We had never left for a hurricane before. But we kept waiting for Katrina to turn and finally he said, 'It didn't turn. We have to leave.' "

The Alberts and their four sons fled Louisiana and stayed with friends, first in Tennessee and then in Arkansas. When Mr. Albert's lifelong friend Neil Smith told them about a four-bedroom home for sale on his street in Valrico, the family moved here.

Mr. Albert, a contractor by profession, spent much of the next year back in New Orleans, rebuilding the storm-damaged home. By the time he was finished, the rest of the family was settled in here, the kids were in school and Sylvia Albert was teaching at Booker Elementary. Instead of moving back home, they decided to stay here.

"Staying here was best for the kids," Sylvia Albert said. "I had a job here, but he didn't have a job in New Orleans. We sold the house. I never even went in after he was done, but I saw pictures and it was beautiful."

It seemed like the start of a new life for Mr. Albert. But last February, Mr. Albert started getting headaches, then occasionally acting strangely. He'd sit watching a TV with just a blue screen — no picture or sound. He'd smoke a cigarette until someone reminded him that he quit years ago.

It turned out he had a brain tumor. On Jan. 2, he passed away from complications of his cancer. He was 51.

He didn't have many years in this area, and he was sick for a lot of the time he lived here. But he made an impact on the community nonetheless.

He worked as the director of maintenance for St. Stephen Catholic Church and School, and he volunteered there in his free time whenever he was needed.

He was an expert seafood cook, and cooked each year at the church's Spring Jubilee. The jubilee had always been a money-loser, Sylvia Albert said, but after he elevated the quality of the cooking, it turned into a major fundraiser for the church.

He was so beloved by the parishioners that during his illness they came to his home to stay with him five days a week while his wife was at work and bring him food every evening. And at the 2012 Spring Jubilee, church members hosted a benefit to raise money for his medical bills.

Mr. Albert was astounded by the affection the church members showed him.

"I have sitters and I'm not that interesting of a guy to sit with," Mr. Albert told a Times reporter in March. "Really, the outpouring of support from the church is overwhelming."

The reaction was a typical expression of Mr. Albert's selflessness. "He gives of himself tirelessly and then he wonders why people like him so much," Smith said at the time.

Mr. Albert was at home, with his wife by his bedside, when he passed away. "It was actually kind of beautiful," she said. "He slipped into a coma. His breathing was the most peaceful — it was shallow, but it was the most peaceful it had been in days. It was the first time I had seen peace on his face in months, because he had been in constant pain for 10 months."

Besides his wife, Mr. Albert is survived by his four sons, Nathan, Kevin, Brian and Jason.

Marty Clear writes life stories about area residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Festivus 2017: Submit your grievances and complaints here

Festivus 2017: Submit your grievances and complaints here

Here's your chance. Tell us what annoyed you in 2017, and we'll share it with our readers.
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Fri., Dec. 15, midday:01 563 0000e_SRit95765Fri., Dec. 15, evening:12 287 1492e_SRit04851Fantasy 5Fri., Dec. 15...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men who ran from deputies and shot a dog were captured after a brief pursuit Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.They ditched a stolen car, ran away on foot, crossed through several yards and then tr...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a hostess and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute, little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and the...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Tampa bicyclist, 52, dies after being rear-ended by vehicle; no charges

TAMPA — A 52-year-old man riding a bicycle was killed early Friday when he was struck from behind by a car in Seminole Heights, according to Tampa police.The incident took place at about 12:15 a.m. Wayne Kersh, 52, was riding his bicycle in the eastb...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

LARGO — A Pinellas sheriff’s child protective investigator has been fired and could face criminal charges after an investigation found she made a child custody recommendation to a judge as a favor to a friend.Jayne Johnson, who has worked for the She...
Updated: 2 hours ago