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Andrew Meacham, Times Staff Writer

Andrew Meacham

Andrew Meacham is the chief Epilogue writer for the Tampa Bay Times, writing obituaries about people from all walks of life. His subjects can be rich or poor, with lengthy or plain resumes. The premise behind the Epilogue is everyone has a story.

Andrew was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., and has lived in St. Petersburg most of his life. He worked eight years in construction, then spent six years as an associate editor at Health Communications, a self-help book publisher. He has an undergraduate degree from Eckerd College and a master's in journalism from University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

He is the author of Selling Serenity (Upton Books, 1999). Andrew has been on its staff since 2005. Two of his stories — on the "sexting"-related suicide of a 13-year-old girl and a dishwasher's hit-and-run death — each won awards from the Society of Professional Obituary Writers. He also received a best-body-of-work award in 2010. In 2012 Andrew became president of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers, which covers North America.

Phone: (727) 892-2248


  1. Vergil Newberne, former Gigi's Italian Restaurants owner, dies at 83


    SOUTH PASADENA — Most nights at Gigi's Italian Restaurant, customers could find Vergil Newberne greeting them at the door, often by name. Mr. Newberne, who started the family chain in South Pasadena in 1967, had become as familiar a sight as the red and blue globe lamps that muted the glare of the day.

    He was a natural, shaking hands and hugging longtime patrons, many of whom had been coming for decades. On Friday nights he walked the floor with a serving platter, offering chunks of his country sausage, a better indicator of his roots than the three-cheese manicotti....

    Vergil Newberne expanded Gigi’s quickly in Florida.
  2. Ebola guidelines pose challenges for funeral industry

    Human Interest

    Health care workers in the United States are not the only ones confused over evolving government directions for treating Ebola patients.

    Funeral directors, whose work and personal safety also could be affected in the event of an outbreak, are puzzling over federal edicts for handling the dead that conflict with long-standing practices and state laws.

    "Everyone's taking it pretty seriously," said Robert Fells, a lawyer who directs the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. "Our people will be on the front lines when and if there are any deaths from Ebola."...

    The Ebola virus has only killed one person on U.S. soil, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued protocols for how to deal with victims’ bodies to avoid new infections.
  3. As St. Petersburg's Santa Claus, Tom Carney delighted thousands


    ST. PETERSBURG — Of the men who have played Santa Claus in the city's annual Christmas display in Straub Park, none in recent memory have created lasting impressions like Tom Carney.

    Over 16 years, thousands of children have lined up to sit on his lap and whisper their deepest desires. Some kept returning long after they had stopped believing. Nine or 10 times, men tricked their girlfriends into posing on Mr. Carney's lap, then dropped to a knee and proposed marriage....

    Tom Carney was the city of St. Petersburg’s Santa from 1997 until his health began to decline in 2012.
  4. Role as wartime columnist gave 'Gertrude Enz' her start


    ST. PETERSBURG — In the early 1940s, as thousands of Americans joined the war effort, a young woman at the St. Petersburg Times landed an opportunity.

    An editor approached the woman peers called Trudy, who had joined the paper a year or so earlier as a typist, and asked if she would like to be a news reporter.

    Four years as the paper's military editor followed, during which she wrote a column, the Bugle Call, under the name "Gertrude Enz." Her Germanic surname, Enzweiler, might not go over so well with readers, she reasoned....

    While her name was Gertrude Enzweiler, she wrote a military column for the St. Petersburg Times as Gertrude Enz.
  5. Army wife wrote about sensitive topics with depth and humor


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Most days, Melissa Renahan could be found at her computer, batting out another recipe for her food blog or pithy advice for military families. The savvy freelance writer had a knack for turning most aspects of her domestic life and interests into magazine stories, all with a contagious enthusiasm and irreverent wit that gained her a loyal following.

    When Maj. Tim Renahan, her husband, was stationed with the Army in Iraq, she sent care packages with cookies and chocolates. A quick study, she tackled subjects such as PTSD and military suicides in the magazines and blog posts. She researched financial tips for personnel about to be relocated, and tried to prepare career personnel about to re-enter civilian life....

    Melissa Renahan, 36, published in magazines across the country.
  6. Doretha Bacon, co-creator of Doe-Al restaurants, brought Southern cooking to all


    ST. PETERSBURG — Without an inner certainty she seemed born with, Doretha Bacon likely would not have created a string of successful barbecue and Southern restaurants around St. Petersburg, more than half of them in predominantly white areas.

    A wide swath of customers was the better for it.

    For 14 years, including all of the 1980s, Canadian tourists and boaters from a nearby marina trekked to Doe-Al Country Cookin' on Pasadena Avenue for fried chicken and Texas-style barbecue ribs, collard greens with chunks of corn bread, and just enough bacon and ham to season them....

    Doretha Bacon, co-founder of Doe-Al’s restaurants, died Oct. 10 of a respiratory illness. She was 89.
  7. Missionary spent two thirds of a long life in China and Japan


    PALM HARBOR — In 1950, the infancy of the "Mao era" in China, there was no escaping a sense of upheaval. The government was redistributing land and mounting an aggressive messaging campaign to citizens that they had been freed from capitalism, not captured by communism.

    Alden Matthews, a missionary in the Fuzhou province, could sense a social narrowing as he was frequently asked, in subtle and not so subtle ways, to declare his allegiance with the new regime. ...

     Matthews Alden, March 7 1994
  8. Karate instructor Michael Kinney taught survival and life skills to thousands


    ST. PETERSBURG — Michael Kinney preached a gospel of karate.

    In his school, or on his numerous television appearances or at conferences in the United States and abroad, Mr. Kinney described the martial arts the way an evangelist invokes God.

    Karate teaches focus and self-confidence, he said, which helps students socially and academically.

    Of the thousands of students who trained in his dojos, which he operated in St. Petersburg recreation centers, many now own schools of their own. Others have married people they met in his classes, then enrolled their own kids. Students called him "Soke Mike," after a Japanese term similar to "grandmaster" and which also honors Mr. Kinney for creating a blend of Korean Tang Soo Do with Aikido and jiu-jitsu....

    Instructor Michael Kinney shows Tim Hillis, 7, proper position on karate move.

Kinney Michael, Karate Instructor
  9. Three appeals court judges up for retention


    Voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to retain three judges on the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal. The court sits in Lakeland and hears appeals in criminal and civil cases from Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, Polk and Sarasota counties.

    The appellate judges — Chris Altenbernd, Morris Silberman and Daniel Sleet — all have worked in the Tampa Bay area since law school....

    Chris Altenbernd
  10. Furniture chain co-founder Thelma Rothman planted numerous charities


    ST. PETERSBURG — Nothing, it seemed, was going to slow Thelma Rothman down. The death of her husband, with whom she founded Kane's Furniture 66 years ago, only hardened her independence.

    Her work on the boards of numerous charities, including several she created, never stopped.

    Nor did her role change at the company, one of the largest furniture chains in Florida. Just last year, Mrs. Rothman visited all 18 outlets in the state. Employees knew she wasn't there to inspect anyone, only to say hello. Since establishing the first Kane's Furniture in downtown St. Petersburg, the business grew to Clearwater, then to New Port Richey and Tampa....

    Thelma Rothman co-founded Kane’s Furniture in 1948 in downtown St. Petersburg.
  11. Richard 'Sandy' Beach, an icon of Alcoholics Anonymous, spread a message of hope to thousands


    TAMPA — In Alcoholics Anonymous, everybody knows everybody on a first-name basis. People in AA keep a low public profile, lest a fall from sobriety reflect badly on the program.

    Popularity, however, has created exceptions to the rule. Most people know the last names of AA co-founders Bill W. and "Dr. Bob" — Wilson and Smith. On the speaking circuit, from small meetings to big conventions, certain names carry enough cachet that their anonymity fades away. And audiences play recordings of their talks the way others listen to a favorite album....

    Richard John Beach was a speaker for Alcoholics Anonymous and a retired lobbyist.
  12. During prime growth years, he owned the Snell Isle Market


    ST. PETERSBURG — At its peak, the Snell Isle shopping center boasted a grocery store, a hardware store, a gas station and a pharmacy, a gift shop with a post office inside and a bank. Just enough for a cozy, upscale community to take care of essentials without leaving the island.

    Phil Maranto, a gregarious former Marine and avid sportsman, owned the Snell Isle Market at 1337 Snell Isle Blvd. NE for nearly 20 of those growth years, from 1963 to 1981, his family said....

     Phil Maranto owned the Snell Isle Market from the early 1960s to the early 1980s.  [Family photo]
  13. Eckerd College kicks male ELS students off campus in response to sexual assault concerns

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — The invitation to foreign students on the Eckerd College website looks irresistible, with images of glistening beaches and sailboats knifing through the water.

    Over the past 40 years, "tens of thousands of students from all over the world" have learned English at an ELS Language Center on the Eckerd campus. They can eat in the cafeterias, swim in the pool, enjoy the waterfront or work out in the gym....

    Eckerd College no longer allows male ELS students to live on campus and imposed an 8 p.m. curfew on all ELS students.
  14. Widely known defense lawyer Anthony Battaglia, dead at 87, litigated the big cases of his day


    ST. PETERSBURG — The trial of U.S. Rep. Richard Kelly over the 1980 Abscam scandal brought together two of the strongest personalities in Tampa Bay legal circles.

    Kelly and his well-known lawyer, Anthony Battaglia, were old law school buddies, which gave Kelly, a former judge, all the more license to tell his old friend how to conduct his defense.

    Fortunately for Kelly and hundreds of other clients, Mr. Battaglia was no pushover. The flamboyant attorney, who always prepared exhaustively for his cases, pushed back sufficiently to get Kelly acquitted. After an appeal, Kelly ended up with a one-year jail sentence....

    Anthony S. Battaglia’s law practice was his first priority.
  15. Eckerd College lecture series on immigration begins with the story of 'Enrique's Journey'

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Stuck in poverty, Lourdes Flores left Honduras when her son Enrique was 5, hoping to find work in the United States and send money home. She couldn't bear to hug him goodbye. Eleven years later, in 2000, the boy left his grandmother's house determined to find his mother.

    The harrowing experience that followed became the subject of a 2006 bestselling book, Enrique's Journey, by author Sonia Nazario, who appears tonight in the first installment of an Eckerd College lecture series, "Between Worlds: Immigration, Identity and Globalization."...