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Housing official Meehan dies

Published Oct. 13, 2005

George F. Meehan, a lawyer who was chairman of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, died Monday (June 3, 1991) at St. Anthony's Hospital. He was 48. He died after a stroke following surgery to remove a lung, said a brother, David.

Mr. Meehan had been managing partner for about 10 years at Harris, Barrett, Mann & Dew, one of the city's largest and oldest law firms. He had been a member of the firm since 1972.

Doctors removed one of his lungs last Thursday, said John C. Dew, a spokesman for the law firm.

Last year, as chairman of the Housing Authority, Mr. Meehan ordered a highly publicized investigation into alleged problems with the management style of Edward White Jr., the authority's executive director. White ultimately was exonerated of the allegations, which stemmed from an anonymous letter mailed to the board chairman.

In the past five years Mr. Meehan had done legal work on campaigns to recall public officials. In January 1989 he was hired to help a group trying to unseat Madeira Beach Mayor Hugh Lamont, who was defeated in a bid for re-election last year.

A year earlier, he was on the other side in a recall drive, defending St. Petersburg Mayor Robert Ulrich during a movement to recall the City Council members for allegedly overspending city funds and discussing the budget in secret, among other things.

"If you know the law, you can represent either side of the law," Mr. Meehan said.

"Quite frankly," Ulrich said Monday, "my reason for retaining George was because of what I considered his substantial legal acumen."

Ulrich, a former colleague at the Harris Barrett firm with Mr. Meehan, called him "not only a personal friend but certainly one of the finest practitioners in this community."

"He gave significant leadership to his firm and, I think, added an important dimension to the community, most recently as chairman of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority board."

Ulrich resigned from Harris Barrett Mann & Dew in 1988 to work full-time as mayor and to avoid conflicts of interest that might arise between city matters and his clients.

Mr. Meehan was born in Fort Benning, Ga., and he had lived in St. Petersburg since 1949. He was a business major at Florida State University and a 1972 cum laude graduate of Stetson University College of Law. He later was an adjunct professor at Stetson.

In his law practice, he concentrated on real estate, banking and business law.

He was a member of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, Pinellas Association for Retarded Children, Museum of Fine Arts and Leadership St. Pete Alumni Association. From 1966 to 1970 he was a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve.

His professional memberships included the St. Petersburg and American Bar associations, the Florida Bar and Pinellas Trial Lawyers Association.

Besides his brother David, survivors include his wife, Fanitsa; a son, George Jr.; a sister, Shawn Ulrich, St. Petersburg; a brother, Michael, St. Petersburg; and his parents, Harold G. and Mildred J. Meehan, St. Petersburg.

Thomas J. Brett Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements, which were not complete Monday.