ST. PETERSBURG — Goliath Davis got the phone call at 7 a.m. Sunday. When he saw where the call was coming from, he got worried.
"I said, 'Don't let this be Sandi telling me Gary is dead,'" said Davis, the former St. Petersburg police chief and deputy mayor.
Sandi Bush had called 911 after discovering her husband, St. Petersburg codes compliance director Gary Bush, would not awaken. Then she called Davis, who several years ago appointed Bush to the one of the toughest city jobs there is....
ST. PETERSBURG — Cold weather and illness drove a young Louis Ricca to St. Petersburg some 66 years ago.
An expertise in rheumatic illnesses kept him here, turning his office near Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue S into a fixture for 32 years. Dr. Louis Ricca, one of the area's first rheumatologists, died Nov. 12 at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, of heart failure. He was 76.
St. Petersburg provided Dr. Ricca with a steady stream of seniors whose medical mysteries he enjoyed solving....
TREASURE ISLAND — Before he turned 21, Charles C. Rice II had lived dreams and survived nightmares.
He ran one of the first fish-processing plants in Honduras. It was an idea from his father, legendary gulf beaches developer and restaurateur Charles C. Rice Sr., a 19th century throwback who sent his daughters to college but put his sons to work.
At 19, Mr. Rice fractured his skull and back in a plane crash. He then floated down a crocodile-infested river clinging to a seat cushion for three days. By age 20, bolstered by the medical books he read, he had delivered babies and once saved the life of a worker nearly disemboweled in a knife fight....
TAMPA — With a national reputation in pediatrics and dozens of medical textbooks to his credit, Lewis Barness wielded a stature that might have intimidated the students and residents he supervised.
He was, after all, a stickler for thoroughness, a perfectionist with a trove of questions yet to ask when other clinicians had exhausted theirs. While his students or residents surely expected to be confronted over mistakes, few could have anticipated the form this criticism would take: a thin stream of ice water in the face, shot with a smile from a syringe the doctor carried in his coat pocket....
TAMPA — In his 20s, Victor Drapela was a priest in Czechoslovakia at the start of the communist era, watching his native country endure another wave of repression after the German occupation.
He spent his 30s on the plains of North Dakota, a priest with a Ph.D and a thirst for the great questions, starting with who are we and why are we here?
By his late 40s, Dr. Drapela had left the priesthood and was teaching psychology at the University of South Florida. He would visit his homeland before and after it became the Czech Republic, the democracy under which he had grown up restored....
In 1957, Dr. James Stem entered the Tampa Tarpon Tournament. The Clearwater pediatrician brought along his wife, who seemed to enjoy fishing.
Aline Stem surprised her husband by landing the biggest tarpon of the tournament.
Her prize: a year's diaper service.
The male winner, whose fish was smaller, took home a new rod and reel and a loaded tackle box.
In those years Mrs. Stem worked as a nurse in her husband's office. She would go on to serve as the first director of Play Parc School, a precursor to UPARC....
During telethons, Thomas Paramoure monitored sound levels for up to 20 microphones on two stages while also layering in music. The sound technician at the Largo affiliate of the Christian Television Network was a model of calmness, co-workers said.
But since childhood, Mr. Paramoure had stressed plenty. The son of a black father and white mother with Jewish roots, he had faced rejection by both white and black peers....
ST. PETERSBURG — In 1977, nine local businessmen opened Park Bank of Florida, riding a tide of optimism sure to lift all boats.
They planned to lend to local businesses, including real estate investors and developers larger banks might pass up. They all had successful track records in law, real estate, a fast-food chain and accounting. Only one of them, however, had been a full-time professional banker....
SEMINOLE — Two days a week, a trim man with neatly parted white hair showed up early at Florida Botanical Gardens, carrying a bucket of gardening tools.
Sam Skemp, a retired Army colonel and a volunteer, had already taught thousands of schoolchildren how to grow vegetables. He talked about the care and nourishment of seeds necessary for a healthy adult plant, hinting at broader lessons. ...
PLANT CITY — Every so often, far too often in recent years, Cecil Murray answered a phone call from the Tampa Police Department.
Another officer had died in the line of duty.
Soon, the thickset man who made a good living memorializing the dead would haul his engraving equipment from Murray Monument Co. in Plant City to 411 N Franklin St.
He would key in the same stencil design used for dozens of names already in black granite in front of the Tampa police headquarters. He would sandblast another name — sometimes two — onto the Roll Call of Honor memorial, then delicately apply gold flake to the letters with a special brush....
ST. PETERSBURG — Mildred Sawyer watched her elementary students for more than their behavior or whether they knew the answers to her questions.
She noticed which ones seemed hungry or wore the same clothes every day. If they lacked food or clothes, she gave them what they needed out of her own pocket.
Mrs. Sawyer looked after parents, too. If they had taken the bus to parent-teacher conferences or to see their children in a school play, she would drive them home....
ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Miller spent his days behind a desk at a bank, helping customers set up trusts and estates.
As often as possible, he traded in his suits for an orange vest to hunt in the Ocala National Forest. Or fish in a succession of boats.
"I married him and a boat," said Betty Jean Miller, his wife and a former Times columnist. "Some worked, some didn't."
Mr. Miller, who lived on a robust scale despite two heart attacks 26 years apart, died Saturday at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg as the result of a stroke. He was 83....
PALM HARBOR — Online Tampa Bay Times files go back to 1987. Newspaper clippings extend another 50 years or so. Those clips in labeled envelopes are mostly news stories, not letters to the editor.
So there is no way of telling how many letters Norman Gross actually wrote to the newspaper. A search under that name, including the middle initial "N" he liked to use, turns up 194 results since Jan. 23, 1987, most of them letters....
10/24/13 State Roundup
House Speaker John Boehner started his eulogy of U.S. Rep C.W. Bill Young with a joke.
The congressman, who died Friday at 82, "loved, in this order, God, his family, his country, and the House Appropriations Committee."
Then the speaker addressed Young's widow, Beverly, and the 1,000 or so people in the seats at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks — and choked up. ...
PINELLAS PARK — A steady breeze kept a huge flag flapping Wednesday evening in front of the C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center, albeit at half-staff for the man inside.
The visitation for Rep. Young, who died last week, drew hundreds of people. Some were elected officials or comrades in politics; others were common men and women who had been touched in one way or another by Young....