TIERRA VERDE — Hundreds gathered Friday evening at Fort De Soto Park to share stories, words and tears for Terry Tomalin, the Tampa Bay Times outdoors editor who died May 19 after suffering a heart attack at age 55.
As loved ones filed in — many carrying kayaks and surfboards for a paddleout ceremony — songs from Tomalin's personal playlist buzzed over speakers.
"What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man," 1980s hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa sang.
Family and friends who spoke at the service said that's exactly what Tomalin was.
"Terry Tomalin proved what a man's life could be worth," St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said.
Older brother Tim Tomalin, one of his eight siblings, called his brother's legacy one that will live on for generations.
Tomalin's son, Kai, 14, and daughter, Nia, 12, also spoke. Nia said, "He prepared us for the world and made sure we could stand on our own."
When a few drops of rain started to fall, Tomalin's nephew Taj looked at the crowd and said, "I want everyone to say 'Hi, Terry' because I know you can feel him in the wind and the rain. He is with us."
"Hi, Terry," everyone said together for the last time, while facing the water Tomalin loved.