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Former Hillsborough judge Donald Castor dies at 81

Donald Castor spent his last night tuned into the NCAA title game.
Donald Castor spent his last night tuned into the NCAA title game.
Published Apr. 10, 2013

TAMPA — Donald F. Castor, a former Hillsborough County judge and father of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, died Tuesday at age 81.

JudgeCastor was hospitalized in early March with pneumonia and was moved Monday to LifePath Hospice Melech House in Temple Terrace.

An avid basketball fan, he watched the NCAA men's championship game Monday night with his wife, Mickey. They were up past midnight, said his daughter, who cut short a visit to Cuba to be with her father.

On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Castor died peacefully with his wife and daughter at his side. Judge Castor had spent his last weeks visiting with family, friends, and his caregivers.

"My father was sincerely interested in every single person he met," Kathy Castor said. "He enjoyed getting to know people, whether it was a fellow judge or another parent or a waiter at a local restaurant."

Judge Castor grew up in Seminole Heights and graduated from Hillsborough High School, Duke University and Stetson University. He took a job in Miami as an assistant state attorney but soon came back to Hillsborough County, where he served as Bay Area Legal Services' first executive director and later as a Hillsborough County Court judge for 20 years.

Judge Castor served on the boards of the Spring of Tampa Bay, which serves domestic violence victims, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, said his first wife, Betty Castor, former president of the University of South Florida and a 2004 U.S. Senate candidate.

Together, they had three children. A second daughter, Karen Castor Dentel, is now a state representative. Their son, Frank Castor, is a judge in West Palm Beach.

While the children were young after their parents divorced, the family continued to attend their church, Grace Lutheran in Carrollwood. Judge Castor would sit in one of the pews with the children in the middle and his ex-wife on the other end, said senior pastor John Hillmer.

Judge Castor remained a member of the church till his death and although he didn't serve on committees, he was involved and interested in other members' lives. He always made a point of talking to college students who were home for holidays, said Hillmer, who visited him on Saturday.

In a whisper, Judge Castor had asked about Hillmer's children and bragged about his own six grandchildren.

Services will be held Sunday at Grace Lutheran Church, 3714 W Linebaugh Ave. A time had not been set on Tuesday.

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