TAMPA — James Christison, who left an accounting firm to champion the rights of minorities and the poor, was no pacifist.
He was a boxer. He had served in Nagasaki after World War II and returned to service during the Korean War. When he ran for Congress in 1978, his words for incumbent C.W. Bill Young were among the toughest Young had faced.
At the same time, Mr. Christison's weapons were not those of war....
The crimson veins of University of Alabama fans were throbbing on Oct. 12, 1963, the homecoming game for Bear Bryant's undefeated team then sitting atop the Southeastern Conference.
Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., was packed. The crowd and the sports world beyond expected an easy win for the Tide behind quarterback Joe Namath.
In the visitors' locker room, Ray Graves swept a calm stare across his University of Florida players....
TAMPA — The uniformed officer at the Air Force social struck her as too confident for his own good.
"Gimme a kiss," Staff Sgt. James Amerosa told Carole Foy 56 years ago in Concord, N.H.
Three months later, a justice of the peace married them.
"I didn't like him," Carole Amerosa, 76, told a visitor in her small but cozy north Tampa home. "But he wore me down."
Despite frequent moves over a military career, Mr. Amerosa held on to the concept of home with a grip as crushing as his handshake. Visitors would get a plate of his spaghetti or barbecue plus a drink, or explain why not....
TAMPA — Television reporter Warren Elly announced his retirement four years ago almost to the date. For journalists and the viewing public, the announcement was a big deal. In his nearly 29 years at WTVT-Ch. 13, Mr. Elly had broken thousands of stories covering courts and crime, politics and space exploration.
"I've always been a daily news reporter," Mr. Elly said at the time. "All I've ever done is turn and burn."...
CORTEZ — Blue Fulford grew up in one of the few Florida fishing villages still worthy of the name, steeped in its history and married to its colorful yet unforgiving lifestyle.
In the 1960s, Mr. Fulford helped found a lobbying group for commercial fishermen. In the 1970s he was the first on Florida's west coast to net sardines and menhaden using spotter planes, then sell the catch as bait fish. He snared enough fish in his nets to live comfortably but also to become a target of recreational anglers who said his methods were depleting the fishery....
TAMPA — Whenever a large storm threatened the gulf coast, Barry May took to his ham radio to make sure he was ready to help. Friends he had never seen in distant countries knew Mr. May as "Kodiak Bear," a radio handle that suited his bulky frame.
As a computer operations and technology analyst for the city of Tampa, he had been the fix-it guy, an information specialist who often worked conventions and other large events. Though he thought about traveling to the Caribbean islands, he never got around to it, and was actually comfortable with the stay-at-home lifestyle he cultivated, barbecuing with friends or going to the shooting range....
ST. PETERSBURG — In 1964, Richard Montague, a music professor at what was then St. Petersburg Junior College, took his two sons to Wyoming for a summer trip. He bought four horses, one for each rider, plus a pack horse, and headed north.
They fished in streams so plentiful with trout that spearing dinner required only a sharp stick.
Dr. Montague, a concert pianist with a doctorate in music, could have spent that time practicing the Tchaikovsky he knew by heart, or the Hungarian rhapsody by Liszt that always got audiences to their feet. Doing so might have lengthened the musical nerve endings in his brain another few microns....
LARGO — Good causes usually do not lack for volunteers, but the drivers behind such endeavors are in shorter supply. They are the risk takers, the ones who start the organizations.
Bill Sanders was such a visionary. A retired Air Force officer, he used skills learned there to tackle litter spoiling the environment. Mr. Sanders, who founded Keep Pinellas Beautiful and ran it for 17 years, died March 15 after an illness. He was 81....
ST. PETERSBURG — Mr. Pizza was as much a hangout as a restaurant, albeit one with red-and-white checkered tablecloths and the aromas of pizza and homemade lasagna in the air.
High school kids from St. Petersburg's west side flocked to the restaurant after football games or just because it was a weekend night. A couple of decades later, so did their own children. On the other side of the counter, owner Russell Gaeta shepherded his meatballs to perfection. One or the other of his six children slid a long-handled peel into a 700-degree oven to give the latest batch of pizzas another turn....
ST. PETERSBURG — Robert T. Pittman, whose courtly Southern demeanor could soothe the rough edges created by the bluntly worded editorials he wrote for the St. Petersburg Times in four decades, died Saturday at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg after a lengthy illness.
He was 85.
Mr. Pittman served as editor of editorials from 1964, the year after he was hired, until his retirement in 1991. During that time he championed integration, open government, civil liberties and other causes many of his readers considered too liberal for their tastes. A close ally of Nelson Poynter, the Times chairman who hired him, he never shied away from providing a forceful, left-leaning voice in a largely conservative community....
REDINGTON SHORES — Every afternoon in the home she occupied for nearly 50 years, Virginia Ripberger spread out chips and crackers, napkins and plates.
Four p.m. was cocktail hour.
She served neighbors and relatives, sometimes sharing her bourbon and ginger ale with a parakeet that liked to perch on the rim of her glass.
Mrs. Ripberger shared her dog with a girlfriend who needed companionship and ferried neighbors to their doctor's appointments. If she got stuck on the Times crossword puzzle or Cryptoquote, she called a friend....
ST. PETERSBURG — Mile after mile, Dr. Konrad Euler pulled his aging body through the saltwater. On April 20, 2002, he swam from the Sunshine Skyway bridge to the tip of Pass-A-Grille, a boat and a kayak trailing behind.
He took a right and headed toward the Loews Don CeSar Hotel. He was 66 years old and would be in the water all day if everything worked out.
He needed to swim to Clearwater. He had tried to do so and failed each of the previous three years....
ST. PETERSBURG — The duel between Seabiscuit and War Admiral, two of the greatest racehorses in history, has lived up to its billing in 1938 as the "match race of the century."
Charles Schick helped break both legends as yearlings. As a teenage exercise boy, he taught Seabiscuit to accept a bridle, then tried to get the underachieving colt interested in racing.
A year later and working for a different stable, Mr. Schick played a similar role for War Admiral, a horse that needed no encouragement to surge to the front. ...
ST. PETERSBURG — There were too many plaintiffs to fit on one line.
That is what the lawyer that night in 1965 told his clients, a dozen black police officers who had been meeting in one another's living rooms for a year and a half.
If these officers were going to file their discrimination lawsuit, one of them needed to be the face of it, lawyer James B. Sanderlin said.
Adam Baker stood up....
02/27/15 Human Interest
A single spotlight illuminated one end of an otherwise dark room at the Pinellas-Pasco County Medical Examiner's office. William Pellan sat behind a computer, eyes fixed to the image of a dead man. Everything I needed to know was on that screen, glowing on his face. But Florida law forbids non-family inspection of autopsy documents. If only I could see, I might be able to answer a question that has haunted me for 15 years, leading me on one fruitless search after another. I might finally learn what became of my childhood best friend. Stewart Fletcher Currin has been missing since 1999. The last time I saw him, he was homeless and paranoid, and his time at a motel was about to run out. The last time anyone saw him was about a month later, when a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy shooed him off a bench. Now here I sat, watching the director of investigations study actual photos of unidentified body 99-1145, a man found five days after Fletcher's last sighting, 5 miles away, by a bus bench. The identity had puzzled the office for years. Even though the medical examiner gets about one unnamed body a week, fingerprints and facial recognition solve most cases within a day or two. Investigators had ruled out this one for 170 missing persons cases. Pellan knew what was at stake, and left the room to talk with Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin. He emerged several minutes later. Solving the case, he said, outweighed any legal technicalities. I braced myself as he turned the screen....