TALLAHASSEE — Panhandle state Rep. Clay Ford died Monday of cancer at the age of 74.
Ford was chairman of the House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee but had been absent from this year's legislative session because of illness.
"The consummate gentleman of the House, Clay Ford was a friend, a mentor and a tender conscience to all those who served with him,'' said House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
Weatherford and Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, pointed to Ford's humble nature. Weatherford said that Ford requested "we not mourn him with ceremony and fanfare" and that his family be allowed to mourn privately.
"Rep. Clay Ford had a long battle with cancer,'' said Patronis. "Today is a day that Clay would be very upset if we were grieving, just because there's never been a picture of humility more in this process I've ever crossed than Rep. Ford."
Ford, a lawyer, took office after a February 2007 special election and was re-elected three times, mostly recently when he won a Republican primary in August 2012. An Arkansas native, Ford was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1975 and 1976 and went on to become a member of the Gulf Breeze City Council from 1990 to 2007.