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Joel Kuperberg dies; served as steward of state's lands

Joel Kuperberg, who ran the state's land management agency under former Gov. Reubin Askew, has died at 77.

Mr. Kuperberg, director of the trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund from 1971 to 1973, died Tuesday (Dec. 28, 2004) in Seattle. He had leukemia, according to a death notice in the Tallahassee Democrat.

As director of the agency that owns almost all state land and grants or denies dredge-and-fill permits, he defied some of Florida's most influential developers.

"The state of Florida owes Joel Kuperberg a debt of gratitude for the outstanding job he has done," Askew said at the time of Mr. Kuperberg's resignation. " He has made an outstanding record while carrying out the duties of this most important and difficult job."

Mr. Kuperberg left his state job to take the reins of the Trust for Public Lands, a private foundation that acquired endangered land for donation to public agencies. For the past 25 years he lived on Vashon Island in Washington state.

The Miami native's master's degree in botany led to work protecting ecosystems. He co-founded the Collier County Conservancy and helped establish two national estuarine sanctuaries.

His wife, Yvonne, sons, Mike, Jeff and Dan and four grandchildren survive.

Island Funeral Service, Vashon, Wash., is in charge of arrangements. Memorial contributions may be made to Forest Stewards, 21204 Monument Road SW, Vashon, WA 98070.

Information from Times files was used in this obituary.