Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Public safety

Longshoreman remembered as loving pastor

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — During his last sermon Saturday, the Rev. Hercules Gilmore told his small East Tampa congregation to be a "flashlight" to the world. Shine, spread the good news and live it out like a beacon for everyone to see.

Longshoremen who worked with the pastor on the Port of Tampa docks said he practiced what he preached, providing encouragement and confidence to other stevedores at the right time in people's lives.

"He was a good, upright man," Andre Futrell said. "Whenever you worked with him there was a reason for you to work with him."

Futrell and Gilmore, from St. Petersburg, were among the dockworkers helping Tuesday to unload the Honesty Ocean, a Panamanian freighter. The cargo included 2 tons of black iron pipes that measured 42 feet long and 3 inches wide, and Gilmore was in the ship's hull, helping to arrange them into 10 bundles of 10 pipes each for a crane to lift.

The crane was raising one of the bundles when a strap broke high above him and the rigging gave way, dropping loose heavy pipes over the ship's deck, side and back down into the hull. Gilmore and his colleagues scattered to avoid being hit. But he tumbled 15 feet into an even lower level of the ship, and the fall killed him, according to a Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's case summary.

Two other workers in the area escaped without injury, Hillsborough Sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said. Futrell, 50, of Tampa broke his right leg and was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where surgeons inserted pins and a plate. The last thing he remembers was working on the ship.

"I don't even recall what happened after that," he said.

What he knows, he said, is that he lost Gilmore, 56, who affected his life several times.

"I lost a good friend," he said.

Divine Worship House of God, a small congregation of about 30 on N 34th Street, lost its lead pastor.

"He lived a life where you could tell he was a pastor," said Katie Harrison, a church member and occasional secretary. "He was nobody who was scheming or anything. Very upright, very loving. Anyone who came off the street who needed help, our pastor gave anything to help him."

Although he was tall and imposing with a name to match, Gilmore was a quiet teacher who believed love broke down people's hard shells. Gilmore's favorite verse was Jeremiah 31:3, "… I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness," said Rosson Hamilton, a church member and minister.

In its four years, Divine House of God hosted movie screenings, serving free hot dogs and popcorn to about 100 community children and parents. The church also held clothing drives and giveaways.

Gilmore's sermons were always hopeful. He stressed family, extolling men to love their wives.

"They had been married for over 40 years," Hamilton said, "and he was definitely an example of how to love on our wife and stick by your wife's side."

Jo Ann Gilmore, who served as the church's co-pastor, could not be reached. Hercules Gilmore is also survived by one son, Andre, 36.

Before he became a stevedore, Gilmore worked an office job. About 15 years ago, the Navy veteran took a job on the docks because he liked the flexibility, which allowed him to minister more. He had served as an associate pastor in a St. Petersburg church for several years before he led Divine House of God, Hamilton said.

The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office and Tampa Fire Rescue have turned their investigation over to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA spokesman Michael D'Aquino confirmed federal investigators are looking into the fatal incident but declined to comment until a final report is released, which can take up to six months.

The Medical Examiner's Office has ruled Gilmore's death an accident.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this story. Justin George can be reached at [email protected], (813) 226-3368 or Twitter @justingeorge.

Comments
Fire sends smoke through roof of Brass Flamingo adult club in Port Richey

Fire sends smoke through roof of Brass Flamingo adult club in Port Richey

PORT RICHEY — Crews from Pasco County fire rescue were battling a fire Wednesday morning that sent smoke pouring through the roof at the Brass Flamingo adult club, 9034 U.S. 19.The fire forced the closing of U.S. 19 but traffic was flowing again by 6...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Mountains beckon, but family sticks with beleaguered Seminole Heights for Thanksgiving this year

Mountains beckon, but family sticks with beleaguered Seminole Heights for Thanksgiving this year

TAMPA — Before the killings began, Bob and Vivian Fiallo envisioned having Thanksgiving at their North Carolina mountain getaway.Most years, the couple spends the holiday at their tidy, brick-faced home on North Olney Avenue, in the heart of Southeas...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Report: Pepin Academies director had alcohol in his system at time of fatal boating accident

Report: Pepin Academies director had alcohol in his system at time of fatal boating accident

CLEARWATER — The former Pepin Academies executive director who died in a watercraft and boat collision on Sept. 23 had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the level at which the state presumes someone is impaired, a toxicology report showed. Just befo...
Published: 11/21/17
Pasco Deputies: Man climbs into bed with sleeping woman after multiple burglaries

Pasco Deputies: Man climbs into bed with sleeping woman after multiple burglaries

NEW PORT RICHEY — A man who ended a series of burglaries by breaking into the home of a sleeping woman, where he climbed into her bed, was arrested Monday afternoon, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.Russel Smith, 42, now faces three felony char...
Published: 11/21/17

28-year-old man shot dead in Spring Hill home, deputies say

SPRING HILL — A 28-year-old man was shot and killed inside a Spring Hill home Monday night, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies responded to at least two separate 911 calls about 8:15 p.m., in which callers reported shots being...
Published: 11/21/17
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Published: 11/21/17

Crash involving bicyclist closes EB lanes on W Kennedy Boulevard in downtown Tampa

TAMPA — Eastbound lanes on W Kennedy Boulevard were reopened by 6:30 a.m. at S Parker Street in downtown Tampa after a bicyclist was struck early Tuesday morning.The crash occurred in front of the University of Tampa, according to broadcast reports.W...
Published: 11/21/17
In wake of killings, Seminole Heights hosts supper to thank first responders

In wake of killings, Seminole Heights hosts supper to thank first responders

TAMPAKenny Hoffa surprised everyone when he made the seven-hour drive from Charleston, S.C., to Tampa’s Seminole Heights to attend a dinner set up to thank police for working hard to solve a string of recent killings.For Hoffa, it was an easy decisio...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Another teen fights for his life following reported stolen car crash

Another teen fights for his life following reported stolen car crash

ST. PETERSBURG — Another teenager is fighting for his life after a crash involving a car that was later reported stolen, according to police.The 15-year-old was a passenger in a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro that hit a tree in the 4000 block of 11th Avenue S...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

Before he crashed, Roy Halladay flew within 75 feet of houses and skimmed the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a report published Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board.The report, which did not address the cause of the crash, ...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17