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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. Classical pianist Richard Montague broke wild horses, studied veterinary medicine

    Obituaries

    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....

    Richard Montague was a classical pianist who also broke horses and once took a correspondence course in veterinary medicine.

Family photo
  2. Bill Sanders, founder and 17-year director of Keep Pinellas Beautiful, dies at 81

    Obituaries

    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....

  3. 'Mr. Pizza' anchored a neighborhood hub for 38 years

    Obituaries

    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....

    Russell Gaeta with his wife, Anna, at an anniversary celebration in 2005.
  4. Robert T. Pittman, 27-year Times editor of editorials, dies at 85

    Obituaries

    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....

    U. S. Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole is queried by the Times and Evening Independent editorial boards on Oct. 13, 1983. Listening closely to her in the board room are, from left: Robert T. Pittman, Times editor of editorials; Martin Dyckman, chief editorial writer for the Times; and Kay Masters, Evening Independent editorial writer. Also at meeting were Times Editor and President Gene Patterson, Charley  [Times (1983)]
  5. For nearly a century, Virginia Ripberger lived to the fullest

    Obituaries

    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....

    Virginia Ripberger was two months shy of turning 100.
  6. Dr. Konrad Euler, a charming and determined swim marathoner, dies at 79

    Obituaries

    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....

    Dr. Konrad Euler, at 66, was the oldest man to swim the Tampa Bay Marathon in 2002.
  7. Former exercise rider Charles Schick rode Seabiscuit and War Admiral

    Obituaries

    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. ...

    Charles Schick went from stable boy to trainer in his career.
  8. Adam Baker, leader of 'Courageous 12' black officers who sued for equality, dies at 78

    Obituaries

    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....

    Officer Adam Baker, shown in a 1967 St. Petersburg Police Department photo, died Feb. 22 at 78.
  9. Finding Fletcher: A man's search for what became of his troubled childhood best friend

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER

    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....

    Andrew Meacham is encouraged that others are now involved in 
the search for Fletcher, including St. Petersburg police.
  10. Charlie Crist's sister and former campaign manager Margaret Crist Wood dead at 60

    Obituaries

    ST. PETERSBURG — Margaret Crist Wood, a sister of former Gov. Charlie Crist who managed his 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate, died of cancer Tuesday at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, her family said.

    She was 60.

    Mrs. Wood had been treated for a malignant brain tumor. The cancer reappeared in recent months.

    The eldest of four children by Dr. Charles J. Crist, a former Pinellas County School Board chairman, and his wife Nancy, Mrs. Wood grew up in a close-knit family that has been anchored in St. Petersburg since 1960. Its members even now live within 2 miles of each other....

    Margaret Crist Wood, Fay Mackey and Susan Churuti at a Stuart Society fashion show at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.
  11. Retired judge Mark McGarry Jr. packed a lot of adventure into 85 years

    Obituaries

    ST. PETERSBURG — Judge Mark McGarry Jr. flew airplanes around the country.

    He excelled at golf and marksmanship, taught badminton and raced canoes and kayaks all over Florida.

    He was competitive, encouraging his children not only to throw themselves into sports, but to win.

    Mr. McGarry — "the Judge," as most everyone called him — also played piano and classical guitar. He also drew, creating several cartoon books about lawyers and judges....

     McGarry Mark K. Jr Politics Circuit Judge Note: Witches Spot
  12. Phil McNiff served the FBI, then George Steinbrenner's New York Yankees

    Obituaries

    TAMPA — The fugitive wheeled around and leveled his pistol.

    Phil McNiff pulled his own gun and said, "FBI, don't move!"

    The suspect ran. As Mr. McNiff rounded a corner in pursuit, a bullet from the fugitive's gun whizzed past his head and lodged in a drain pipe.

    Another agent stopped the fugitive, a member of the Black Liberation Army, with a shotgun blast, killing him....

    Phil McNiff worked for the FBI for 30 years and was special agent in charge of the Tampa office before leaving the bureau in 1980.
  13. R. Clinton Pittman pursued law, theology after long career in neurosurgery

    Obituaries

    For a neurosurgeon on call, there are no real work hours.

    You show up at the hospital whenever someone needs your help staying alive.

    Also, forget about working eight hours and going home. Dr. R. Clinton Pittman, a neurosurgeon for many years, once pulled 24 hours straight performing surgery at Morton Plant Hospital.

    To compensate for the unpredictable schedule, he sometimes slept in an apartment closer to the hospital than his Tarpon Springs home....

    After Dr. R. Clinton Pittman had practiced many years as a neurosurgeon, he earned a law degree and, later, a master's in divinity. Photo courtesy of Jeanne Pittman.
  14. Ed Radice, who multiplied the size and scope of Hillsborough parks, dies at 78

    Obituaries

    TAMPA — It might have sounded like an easy job, supervising children and playing games with them all summer at Hillsborough County parks.

    Ed Radice, who led the county's Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department for 28 years, knew that workers could get tired and frustrated by the end of those hot days. So every morning throughout the county, Mr. Radice showed up looking fit, wearing shorts over his brown legs and a coach's whistle around his neck....

    Ed Radice led Hillsborough’s parks department for 28 years.
  15. Miriam Williams, member of one of St. Pete's oldest families, dies at 88

    Obituaries

    ST. PETERSBURG — Miriam Williams was a 21-year-old recent college graduate and teaching school when a phone call brought her the worst possible news.

    Her parents, Oscar and Finnette Gilbart, had been struck Nov. 30, 1948, while crossing Fourth Street N. Her father was killed instantly; her mother died the next day.

    She would marry Gene Williams the next year, a union that lasted the rest of her life and produced four children. Memories of the tragedy nipped at her each November, but Mrs. Williams stayed ahead of the grief. "God has a plan," she told her children, "and so far his plans are far better than mine."...

    Miriam Williams  was once named Miss St. Petersburg.