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Jack Auman found time for the things he cared about.

A high school diploma by age 16, but no college.

Time to marry a Walgreens cashier named Grace and start having children when they were both 20, but not for trips that would take him away from her for a week, for any reason.

Time for his son's baseball game or his daughter's induction into the National Honor Society, but not civic groups or church.

Time to gas up the 1962 Chevy Bel Air for one-tank family road trips to Fort Myers, St. Augustine or Myakka River State Park.

Time to care for Grace when she developed osteoporosis, to learn how to shop and cook and clean in his 80s.

"He provided a good example of how to make it in the world, and what's important," said Mr. Auman's son, Bill.

The Aumans ran several businesses in Pinellas County.

The first, Jack's Sundries, was on 49th Street and First Avenue S. It packed 'em in for Jack's burgers or Grace's chicken corn soup. But it was exhausting work. They sold the place in 1960.

Next came Shady Side Grocery on 15th Avenue S, It lasted 17 years, until Mr. Auman bought the Gulfport Beach Bazaar, which he owned from 1976 to 1985.

There, the last nine years before he retired, Mr. Auman got work down pat.

He ran the post office in the back. He wore shorts to work. After lunch, Mr. Auman would frequently hit a movie. It didn't matter which one. He left Grace to manage the variety store on Beach Boulevard in Gulfport.

The bazaar had a little bit for everyone, whether they were locals, immigrants from all over Europe and the Americas or tourists. There was a restaurant and a doctor's office next door, a Realtor across the street. And all those people coming to get their mail.

The Aumans offered beach supplies, dresses and hats, candy, cards, stamps, bumper stickers and chewing gum.

His daughter, Sue Strauss, 63, remembers the regulars, like the blood pressure lady who stopped by daily. Or the elderly woman who wandered the store because she wandered everywhere and it was what she did. There also was a guy who would return from Southeast Asia every six months or so to get his mail, the one everyone thought was a spy.

"My father was not extraordinary," Strauss said. "He was just an Everyman."

In retirement, Jack and Grace booked flights out West and drove in rental cars, planning their trips only a little more than the one-tank excursions of old.

After Grace died in 2006, Mr. Auman's health began to decline. A few days before he died, Mr. Auman told his son that Grace was in the room, and that she was talking to him.

He died Saturday of kidney failure. He was 85.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at or (813) 661-2431.


John F. Auman

Born: Oct. 23, 1922.

Died: Feb. 2, 2008.

Survivors: daughter, Sue Strauss (Stan); son, William (Anne); brother, Charles (Pat); many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Services: Held on Tuesday at Memorial Park Funeral Home, 5750 49th St. N, St. Petersburg.