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In mediation and terminal illness, Bob Bugg found pathways to peace

Published Aug. 17, 2013

CLEARWATER — On one side of a conference table sat rocker Nikki Sixx and his lawyer.

On the other side, a Hudson woman and her attorney made their case against Sixx, saying the bass player for Motley Crue had injured her with the guitar he hurled from a stage in a 1997 Livestock festival.

Between them sat mediator Robert Bugg, a Sunday-school-teaching law school professor who loved puns and other clean jokes. Over three hours, he chipped away at each side until Sixx and the woman reached an undisclosed settlement.

Mr. Bugg died Aug. 9 of amyloidosis, a rare and often fatal blood disease. He was 62.

His daughter, Jennifer Dunlap, worked in Mr. Bugg's office for several years. In mediation, she said, "You have to make them walk out like they got the best of every possible scenario. And I think he did that. It's a mystery to me, but it was just his gift."

At times, his calm demeanor prompted even the lawyers to seek out his advice on personal matters. "Sometimes the only 'help' I could give was to just listen," Mr. Bugg wrote in his blog.

Robert Earl Bugg was born in Miami in 1951. He graduated from Stetson University and its law school, marrying high school sweetheart Patra Cox.

A few of his civil law cases made news. When a Dade City rancher sued after his pigs died of a vitamin E deficiency, Mr. Bugg represented one of the feed suppliers. When the family of a 5-year-old girl sued over a pharmacist's error, resulting in a nonfatal overdose of the stimulant Cylert, Mr. Bugg successfully represented Eckerd Drugs.

He had devoted his practice to full-time mediating for nearly 15 years. "Bob had a very good sense of tact at judging just when to say certain things as opposed to others," Tampa lawyer Howard Scholl said. "He knew very well where the lines were and where he could get the best results out of people."

He also taught law at Stetson, livening up PowerPoint presentations with jokes, and Sunday school at Starkey Road Baptist Church, somehow finding time to attend most of his children's athletic events along the way, his daughter said.

In 2009 Mr. Bugg was diagnosed with amyloidosis. Doctors eventually shut down his kidneys to slow the spread of the disease, which deposits too much of a protein called amyloid in organs and tissues. He started a blog, "A Cheerful Heart Is Good Medicine," balancing his fatigue and diminished mobility with psalms and photos of his grandchildren.

He talked about building "walls" in his mind to avoid thinking about depressing subjects. At the same time, a lifelong spiritual resolution became firmer still.

In May 2012 he decided to reduce his blog posts from weekly to monthly updates. His last entry was Aug. 1, 2012. Mr. Bugg began it with Psalm 23, then thanked his many supporters for their prayers.

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