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. 'The Deuces' loses its grocer and lifelong student Paul Barco


    ST. PETERSBURG — For a few decades, 22nd Street S offered all the amenities available to white people downtown.

    At its peak in the early 1960s, more than 100 businesses crowded "the Deuces," or 22nd Street S between Fifth and 15th avenues, including auto repair shops, hair salons, doctor and lawyer offices, grocers and cobblers, real estate hubs, car dealers, funeral homes and a theater....

  2. John McMahon, popular bartender of Old New York, New York, dies at 63


    CLEARWATER — For nearly 30 years, the Old New York, New York Niteclub drew a loyal clientele of transplants and Florida natives, seasonal visitors and drivers who just happened to notice its apple-shaped sign on U.S. 19 N.

    Behind the bar with which he was one (he called it "my wood"), John McMahon drew from the well of an elephantine memory. He remembered names and the drinks that went with them. He could compete with whoever was playing Jeopardy on television or tell you who won the 1951 World Series (the New York Yankees)....

  3. Charles Rutledge, last party to 1964 lawsuit that desegregated Pinellas schools, dies


    CLEARWATER — Charles Rutledge built his edifice for equality the same way he built his homes: block by block. A member of a well-known family in Clearwater's African-American community, Mr. Rutledge learned early to push for what you want, remain firm and don't back down.

    In 1964, Mr. Rutledge and five other African-American parents sued the Pinellas School Board. Their federal case, Leon W. Bradley Jr. vs. the Board of Public Instruction of Pinellas County, led to the desegregation of Pinellas schools....

    Charles Rutledge formed his own masonry company and did well enough to retire at 51.
  4. Residents rally for fired desk clerk who mistook body for mannequin

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — His error turned him from an innocuous desk clerk on the graveyard shift into the star of a News of the Weird item.

    In the predawn hours of April 2, police say, Ronald Benjamin mistook the body of a 96-year-old woman who had jumped 16 floors to her death for a department store mannequin.

    Benjamin, 61, told police he thought someone was playing an April Fools' joke. Later, he enlisted a mother and son who were delivering newspapers to help him heave the body into a Dumpster....

    Police say 96-year-old Nancy Yates took her own life Wednesday by jumping from the 16th story of the Peterborough Apartments retirement community near Mirror Lake in St. Petersburg.
  5. Epilogue: Retired St. Petersburg Junior College dean James Goss always took charge


    CLEARWATER — His name is stamped on dozens of plaques and certificates that now cover multiple walls of his house. James C. Goss had served as president of the boards of the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center and of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast. The governor of Kentucky had appointed Dr. Goss to the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.

    Dr. Goss had earned a doctorate and served as an associate dean of St. Petersburg Junior College (now St. Petersburg College). He had been inducted into the Kentucky State University Basketball Hall of Fame....

    Dr. James C. Goss was known as Lefty to old teammates.
  6. Elderly woman who jumped to her death had been slipping in health and spirit

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Since the 1980s, Nancy Yates had charmed neighbors at the Peterborough Apartments with her British accent and steely independence.

    The woman they knew simply as Nan had started the library at the complex, which caters to seniors, and seemed highly alert despite being one of the building's oldest residents at 96. Though hospitalized at least twice in recent months, she had bounced back, working out in the gym of the city's Sunshine Center across the street....

    Residents of Peterborough pride themselves on a sense of community and regard it as a place where people look out for each other. Nancy Yates was one of the most significant contributors to that atmosphere.
  7. Acclaimed artist and USF professor Theo Wujcik dies at 78


    TAMPA — Theo Wujcik kept odd hours, often closing down the Castle in Ybor City and returning to his studio across the street, where he would paint until daybreak.

    His work could not be categorized as pop or realist or abstract, though it contained those elements and more.

    Nor did Mr. Wujcik himself fit into any genre. He turned 21 when Elvis Presley's All Shook Up topped the charts, yet would lead a "movement" in Ybor City in the 1980s called Mododado, which combined punk rock and salvage art and dancing....

  8. A complicated, powerful force who changed lives for the better


    TAMPA — In the late 1960s, Shirley McKay packed her husband, her toddler and her dreams into a battered VW bug and headed for San Francisco.

    They stayed a couple of years, long enough to fill a photo album with their new friends, guys wearing berets and earth-toned sweaters, playing chess.

    "These cool young people, at an amazing time," said her son, Todd McKay. "Trying to figure out who they were and what they were all doing."...

  9. As chief of staff, Dr. Sidney Grau helped upgrade the former Mound Park Hospital


    ST. PETERSBURG — When he sat down for a biographical interview in 2005, Dr. Sidney Grau was 87.

    The interview, now part of the University of Florida's digital archives, traces the career of a prominent cardiologist.

    "Do you know what we had to do when we had Mound Park Hospital?" Dr. Grau asked the interviewer. In the 1950s, he said, the hospital that is now Bayfront Health had only 150 or so beds, not enough to accommodate the crush of winter residents....

    Dr. Sidney Grau and his wife, Lillian, traveled widely. Dr. Grau didn’t always trust the local cuisine so he packed a jar of peanut butter, just in case.
  10. Hammerhead shark takes kayaker on 2-hour ride (watch)

    Human Interest

    BOYNTON BEACH — Adam Fisk had barely tossed his bait fish in the water on Sunday when the shark hit.

    One of the poles in his kayak — not the one in his hand — suddenly slammed against its holder and bent far forward.

    The 22-year-old saw the shark, an 11-foot hammerhead. He grabbed the pole and settled in for a long fight.

    Fisk's YouTube video, "Lone Man Gets Towed For Miles in Kayak By 11 Foot Hammerhead Shark," had gotten about 2,700 views in two days. Worried about the battery life of his head-mounted camera, he only captured a little more than 6 minutes of the ride, during which the shark pulls his kayak at a brisk pace for 8 miles....

  11. Newt Simmons ushered in the counterculture with Out of Sight! Shop in St. Pete Beach


    ST. PETE BEACH — To those who lived through that time, "the Sixties" really means the late 1960s and early 1970s. That is when Woodstock defined a generation, the Beatles peaked and receded, and long hair on men seemed normal.

    On St. Petersburg's Gulf beaches, one retailer — the Out of Sight! Shop — captured the essence of the time better than anyone else.

    The store at 401 Corey Ave. in St. Pete Beach opened in 1968. Co-founders Newt Simmons and his wife, Anne, were both 22 and full of hope. Billed variously as a "new country store," a "psychedelic department store" and the "most incredible shop in the universe," Out of Sight! was the counterculture's Webb's City on a much smaller scale....

  12. Legendary Tampa percussionist Joe Lala dies at 66


    TAMPA — His heyday as one of the best percussionists alive lasted 20 years and encompassed dozens of the biggest names in popular music.

    Joe Lala, king of the congas, played with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, the Bee Gees, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. He played with John Lennon and Ringo Starr, Diana Ross and Barbra Streisand, Etta James, the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston and Herbie Hancock....

    Joe Lala played with stars ranging from John Lennon to Dolly Parton.
  13. Rick Gee sought to 'keep jazz alive' in Tampa Bay


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Manhattan Casino, once a musical nerve center of the African-American community, had sat idle for more than 40 years.

    In recent years, jazz aficionados wanted to revive the venue that had once brought the likes of B.B. King, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong to 642 22nd St. S. The casino reopened in October 2011, headlined by the Dizzy Gillespie All Stars quintet, featuring trumpeter and two-time Grammy winner Roy Hargrove....

    Rick Gee’s connections helped secure Dizzy Gillespie’s All Stars for a Manhattan Casino gig.
  14. Epilogue: 'Seinfeld coma kid' Dan Cassill dies at 34


    In February 1997, seven weeks after the crash that had put him in a Tallahassee hospital, Dan Cassill stirred in bed.

    An episode of Seinfeld, the high school student's favorite show, had just aired on the television in his room.

    His mother, Deby Cassill, had turned off the television and hugged him good night when Mr. Cassill whispered the three most important words of his young life: "Where am I?"...

    During his attempts at recovery, Dan Cassill became addicted to cigarettes. He died at 34.
  15. Epilogue: Pinellas courthouse chef Charlie Goodsell ran tight kitchen


    CLEARWATER — Ask any of the bailiffs, judges and lawyers who have dined at the Pinellas County Justice Center for years, or most anyone who has had lunch there while serving on a jury.

    Most would likely confirm that Charlie Goodsell ran his corner of the courthouse like a chief judge. Mr. Goodsell was the chef behind the grill, the most crowded corner of the cafeteria.

    Mr. Goodsell took orders two or three customers in advance. If you were anywhere near the front of the line, "You'd better be ready to spit it out," said defense attorney Richard Watts. ...