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Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s husband dies after fall

John Passidomo fell while hiking in Utah.
 
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo gives brief remarks at the end of the 2024 Florida legislative session, Friday, March 8, 2024, in Tallahassee.
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo gives brief remarks at the end of the 2024 Florida legislative session, Friday, March 8, 2024, in Tallahassee. [ ALICIA DEVINE | AP ]
Published April 3

TALLAHASSEE — John Passidomo, the husband of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, died Wednesday after falling and suffering massive head trauma and other injuries, according to a memo distributed by the Florida Senate.

“The president has lost the love of her life, and is absolutely devastated by this sudden and unexpected accident,” the memo from Senate President Pro Tempore Dennis Baxley, R-Eustis, said.

John Passidomo, 72, fell Monday while hiking with his wife in Utah. He was taken by ambulance from the hiking trail to a local hospital before being airlifted to a regional trauma center.

“After a thorough evaluation by the very best medical teams over the next 24 hours, the president was advised that Mr. Passidomo would not survive these severe injuries. Their family quickly traveled to Utah and with the president and their three daughters by his side, the first gentleman passed away peacefully at 3:21 p.m. EDT,” the memo said.

The Passidomos were “law-school sweethearts” who met while attending Stetson Law School. The couple married in 1979 and relocated to Naples, where they launched careers specializing in real estate law. The Passidomos have three adult daughters — Catarina, Francesca and Gabriella — and two grandsons. Gabriella Passidomo serves on the state Public Service Commission.

Kathleen Passidomo became Senate president in November 2022 and last month finished her final regular legislative session in the powerful post. She has two more years on her Senate term.

The couple’s trip to visit national parks in Utah “was one of many great adventures they shared during five decades together,” the Senate memo said. “Their last few days together were marked by many special moments, beautiful scenery, and wonderful reflections on their lifetime together and plans to live out their golden years watching their grandchildren grow up.”

The death sent shockwaves through Tallahassee lobbying and legislative circles as news began to circulate Wednesday afternoon. John Passidomo, a frequent visitor to the Capitol, accompanied his wife on the Senate floor last month as senators honored the outgoing president, posing with her for photos as the chamber unveiled her official portrait.

Kicking off the 2023 legislative session, Kathleen Passidomo called her husband her “partner in life” and thanked him “for keeping me focused and grounded.”

The senator this year posted a Valentine’s Day message to her husband on Facebook, saying “I am so grateful for my favorite Valentine, my husband John. Thank you for being my everything. I love you!”

John Passidomo was an attorney with the Naples-based Cheffy Passidomo firm and was a board-certified specialist in real estate law, according to a biography on the firm’s website. A former chairperson of the Collier County Bar Association, he also served as vice mayor of the city of Naples and as a member of the city commission from 1990 to 1992.

The Senate memo called John Passidomo “very fit and active, with overall excellent health at age 72.”

“He was listed as an organ donor, and the president wanted to honor those wishes. Late last night, matches for several of the first gentleman’s organs were identified. The president and her family are taking comfort in the fact their great loss has resulted in a life-saving gift for other families,” the memo said.

The message also expressed the Senate president’s appreciation for the National Park Service, local first responders and medical workers at Garfield Memorial Hospital.

“In particular, the superintendent of Bryce Canyon National Park along with the park’s family liaison officer, and social work staff from Garfield County provided vigilant support and help to the president as she navigated this traumatic medical emergency in an unfamiliar and remote location. Fellow hikers on the trail were the first to reach Mr. Passidomo. Their quick action sustained his life, not only providing precious moments for the family to say goodbye, but also making organ donation possible, effectively saving the lives of others,” the memo said.

The Senate president also thanked “the dedicated staff at the trauma center at St. George Regional Hospital who provided around-the-clock care for Mr. Passidomo and support for the president, answering all of her questions with compassion and professionalism and consulting with a broad range of specialists in Salt Lake City and at UF Health Shands to ensure he received the best possible medical support under the circumstances,” the memo said.

Michael Okun, director of the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at the University of Florida “spent a great deal of time speaking with the president and her daughters, which was a great comfort to their family,” the memo said.

Funeral plans will be arranged in the coming weeks.

The Senate president’s father, Alfonse A. Cinotti, also died in September at age 100.

By Dara Kam, News Service of Florida