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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

Email: ameacham@tampabay.com

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  1. Murray Smart, of Smart Furniture, was a decorated war hero

    Obituaries

    WEEKI WACHEE — The B-24 bomber was flying low, about 10,000 feet over France in 1944. The idea was to pave the way for Allied troops to cross the border into Germany.

    The Germans were fighting with anti-aircraft fire.

    That's when Murray Smart, who was crouched in the nose of the plane, got a message from the pilot. Something was wrong with the radio man.

    He was staggering, disoriented....

    In 2007, John Murray Smart sat for a portrait in the jacket he wore when he was a 22-year-old first lieutenant.
  2. Former legislator Helen Gordon Davis, who fought for women and minorities, dies

    Blog

    TAMPA — Helen Gordon Davis knew how to take her space on the stage, inhabit a role and mesmerize a room.

    For her leading roles in community theater in Tampa and St. Petersburg, the former Hillsborough High School drama teacher won multiple best actress awards through the 1960s.

    Mrs. Davis went on to give passionate speeches on the floor of the state Legislature, where she was equally alone and equally effective. As the first woman from Hillsborough County elected to the Florida House of Representatives, she opened doors for women and minorities, confronting inequalities with poise and determination....

  3. Cynda Mort, who developed journalism programs in schools, dies at 62

    Obituaries

    ST. PETERSBURG — Cynda Mort took over a new program at Melrose Elementary School in 2001 as if she had been preparing for it her whole life.

    As the first coordinator of Journeys in Journalism, a partnership between the Pinellas County School District and the Tampa Bay Times, Mrs. Mort started a school newspaper and a program that would win numerous national awards at the elementary, middle and high school levels....

    Cynda Mort was the first coordinator of Pinellas’ Journeys in Journalism partnership.
  4. Former legislator Helen Gordon Davis, who fought for women and minorities, dies

    Obituaries

    TAMPA — Helen Gordon Davis knew how to take her space on the stage, inhabit a role and mesmerize a room.

    For her leading roles in community theater in Tampa and St. Petersburg, the former Hillsborough High School drama teacher won multiple best actress awards through the 1960s.

    Mrs. Davis went on to give passionate speeches on the floor of the state Legislature, where she was equally alone and equally effective. As the first woman from Hillsborough County elected to the Florida House of Representatives, she opened doors for women and minorities, confronting inequalities with poise and determination....

    Sen. Helen Gordon Davis wears a toilet seat presented to her on the Senate floor after her “potty parity’’ bill passed in 1992.
  5. Father Damian nourished students and flowers over decades at Saint Leo

    Obituaries

    SAINT LEO — In May 1963, four Benedictine missionaries left Saint Leo Abbey in Pasco County for the sparsely populated hills of Argentina. The band of monks, two priests and two brothers, intended to set up a sanctuary in the diocese of Santiago del Estero, 650 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.

    For Father Damian DuQuesnay, the expedition would resemble other burdens he had shouldered since joining the priesthood as a young man. He had plunged into the ministry without a road map, figuring the right thing would happen....

    Father Damian DuQuesnay, a longtime Saint Leo University teacher, was one of the first Benedictine monks from Jamaica.
  6. Make document protection a high priority for hurricane season

    Hurricanes

    Long before you head out to Home Depot for plywood and duct tape as a hurricane approaches, there's an even more critical step you should take: preserving the documents that prove who you are and verify ownership of your most important assets.

    We are talking about your insurance policies and titles to your vehicles, receipts and photos of your possessions, appraisal documents, Medicare cards, refill prescriptions and more. You will also want to hang on to birth certificates, passports, Social Security cards, marriage records, tax returns and copies of your driver's license and each side of your credit cards....

    This waterproof protector case by Pelican sold at Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park is a good choice for protecting your documents, but there are many others.
  7. Jeweler Jerome Gilbert, a downtown presence for 66 years, dies at 92

    Obituaries

    ST. PETERSBURG — For about 60 years, three Jewish downtown merchants made a point to have lunch together. Men's clothing store owner Arnold Argintar and jewelers Bernie Kauffman and Jerry Gilbert dined at the cafe of the Hotel Poinsettia on Central Avenue.

    "We used to call them the Kosher Nostra," said Mark Gilbert, 64, Mr. Gilbert's son. "It sort of stuck, in a funny way."

    At one point the dapper lunch group numbered closer to 20 businessmen, most of them older than the Kosher Nostra contingent. Now, with the death of Mr. Gilbert May 2 after an illness, all are gone....

    Jeweler Jerry Gilbert, right, talks with friends and fellow merchants Bernie Kauffman, center, also a jeweler, and Arnold Argintar, who owned a menswear shop, after one of their lunches together, a tradition for decades, in St. Petersburg in 2006. Mr. Gilbert was the last to pass away.
  8. Writer Tom Valeo, a mainstay in Times features for many years, dies

    Obituaries

    ST. PETERSBURG — Karen Pryslopski sipped coffee at a tall kitchen table in her home, as she had done each morning with her husband for nearly eight years.

    This was their sanctuary, a place to read the paper or whip up an exquisite dinner with whatever was at hand. And while most of the culinary prowess came from Pryslopski, her husband Tom Valeo was a quick study.

    He had also taught himself much about the human brain and contributed regularly to Neurology Now and Neurology Today, as well as hundreds of stories for the Tampa Bay Times. ...

    Former newspaper editor Tom Valeo was a prolific freelance writer, publishing hundreds of stories for the Tampa Bay Times and medical publications such as Neurology Today.

family photo
  9. Man sues Sheriff's Office over attack by police dog

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — An Oldsmar man is suing the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office over injuries he sustained last year in an unprovoked attack by a police dog.

    A lawyer for the Sheriff's Office acknowledged the agency's fault in the incident, which left David Lawrence Haire, 56, with unspecified injuries.

    Haire's lawsuit, filed in Hills­borough circuit court in January, includes a list of consequences he says he suffered from the incident ranging from medical expenses to disfigurement and the loss of an ability to earn a living. He has not been able to reach a settlement agreement with the Sheriff's Office, even though neither side disputes that the dog injured Haire....

  10. Guy Daines, Pinellas County's 'godfather of emergency management' for hurricanes, dies

    Obituaries

    TARPON SPRINGS — In the nearly 30 years since Hurricane Elena traumatized Pinellas County over a Labor Day weekend, no storm has hit this area harder.

    As Elena parked, nearly motionless, some 80 miles in the Gulf of Mexico off west-central Florida, a small but dedicated team worked virtually nonstop. In a makeshift office in the mail room of the Clearwater courthouse, the Emergency Operations Center oversaw the evacuation of more than 300,000 residents, including patients in three hospitals and 19 nursing homes....

    Guy Daines completed a 20-year career in the Army.
  11. Epilogue: James Christison left corporate life to attack hunger and discrimination

    Obituaries

    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....

    James Christison left his accounting job at Price Waterhouse (now PwC) for a career with the American Baptist Convention (now American Baptist Churches USA).

family photo
  12. Ex-Gators football coach Ray Graves dies at 96

    Sports

    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....

    Former Gators football coach Ray Graves, at his Clearwater home last year, played a big role in popularizing Gatorade.
  13. Epilogue: James Amerosa and Carole eloped nearly 56 years ago

    Obituaries

    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....

    After his Air Force career, James Amerosa Sr. moved his family to Tampa in 1973.
  14. Longtime television reporter Warren Elly dies

    Obituaries

    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."...

    Former WTVT-Ch. 13 reporter Warren Elly kept a blog about his fight with cancer.

  15. Thomas 'Blue' Fulford, fishing legend and proponent of a simpler time, dies at 83

    Obituaries

    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....

    Blue Fulford works on the cast nets he sold after a statewide ban on commercial fishing nets went into effect in 1995.