Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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
Safety Harbor is no safe haven from cyberbullying

Safety Harbor is no safe haven from cyberbullying

SAFETY HARBOR — Mayor Joe Ayoub put forth a resolution Monday evening asking the City Commission to condemn cyberbullying.The result? The meeting devolved into shouting and whispering from the crowd and people storming out of chambers.The mayor’s res...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
The Daystarter: St. Pete Pride week; so what it’s called the Yuengling Center?; free from jail after seven years

The Daystarter: St. Pete Pride week; so what it’s called the Yuengling Center?; free from jail after seven years

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• There’s no more denying it: summer is here. The forecast calls for highs near 90 degrees for the foreseeable future, coupled with afternoon showers, according to 10Weather WTSP.• As y...
Updated: 7 hours ago
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG — Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USF’s latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time it’s done.For starters, it...
Updated: 10 hours ago
What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

Blame a lack of rail cars in Canada or not enough semi trucks in the United States. Forest fires didn’t help. Tariffs played a big role, too.Even the buoyant economy takes part of the rap for frothy lumber prices, which hit all-time highs last month....
Published: 06/20/18
Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

It started with jugs of olive oil and cans of tuna, lots of it, which my husband hauled in one day and plunked on the counter. "That’s my lunch!"That was about three months ago, and every day since there has been a new entity in our house to consider...
Published: 06/20/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

Tesla chief Elon Musk said last week that the company’s layoffs of 9 percent of its workforce wouldn’t affect production as the all-electric automaker races to build thousands of new Model 3 sedans a week.But documents the company filed days later wi...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is talking from a hotel room in Las Vegas and admits he's a little jet-lagged."Actually, very jet-lagged," Hedman says.That's what happens when you take a flight from Sweden to the party capital of the world.But he knows exactly what he...
Updated: 9 hours ago