William F. "Bill" POE Sr.

Obituary

POE, William F. Sr. "Bill" former Mayor of Tampa, passed away at his home Thursday, May 1, 2014 surrounded by family. He was 82. Bill Poe loved Tampa and always wanted to do what was best for its residents. He was elected Mayor in 1974 and re-elected in 1975. His term coincided with major redevelopment in the downtown area and he is credited with having the forethought and vision to see what Tampa could become. In later years he delighted in seeing former city employees he served with and those who shared a story of how he helped with their problem. Starting from a one-man insurance agency in a former barbershop on Whiting Street, Poe & Associates became an industry leader, growing to become the 13th largest agency in the United States. His greatest satisfaction came from working day-to-day with his generations of "Associates," walking through the office to ask about a new child, or a mother or father who worked with him years earlier. He considered his employees his extended family, and family was both his treasure and paramount concern. Bill was born the youngest of three children to Fred & Zula Poe. He grew up in Seminole Heights and attended Hillsborough High School, where he played basketball and tennis and was elected class president. In high school he met Betty Blackburn, the love of his life, who he would marry. He attended Duke University for one year, playing on the freshman basketball team. He later transferred to the University of Florida and graduated in 1953 and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. While at UF, Bill was president of his beloved Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Years later Bill and Betty founded the Elizabeth B. and William F. Poe Center for Business Ethics Education and Research, now among the premier ethics programs in the country. For 60 years Bill and Betty shared a life together, including a brief stint in the Air Force where they were stationed in Japan. Upon returning home to Tampa, Bill Jr., Keren, Marilyn and Janice were born. While running for his first term as Mayor, Billy and Betty added Charlie to the family. His five children gave him 16 grandchildren who he adored. He loved his family and they all remained extraordinarily close, sharing many celebrations together. Bill earned many prestigious awards during his lifetime. Among those he valued most were "Outstanding Young Man of Tampa" in 1963; the "Effective Government Award" in 1979 while serving as Mayor; the "Business Citizen Award" from the Harvard Business School Club of Florida West Coast in 1980; induction into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame in 1990; the "Eddie" Outstanding Alumnus Award of Hillsborough County Public Schools in 1997; the "Moral Courage Award" in 1999, given by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for his ethical and moral courage in the community; and the "2002 Philanthropist of the Year" and the 2006 "Legacy Award" from Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, where he helped establish the Bill Poe Family Junior Achievement Center. He was known as "Papa" to his sixteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren who he adored; Dad or Daddy to his 5 children; Billy to his wife, Betty; and Bill, Billy, or Willie to his friends. Whether he was playing tennis or sharing a laugh with friends, throwing a music-blaring dance party on the pontoon boat with his kids and grandkids, at the beach with Betty, or working hard alongside friends and family at the City or the office, Bill was a kind, generous, loyal, courageous and loving man. Our Dad, our Papa, Our Hero! He is missed by all. Bill is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Blackburn Poe; his children, William Frederick Poe, Jr., Keren Poe Smith (Larry), Marilyn Poe Lunskis (Tim), Janice Poe Mitchell (Greg), and Charles Edwin Poe (Corey); his grandchildren, Shannon Foster Ward, Megan Lynn Smith (Hershel), Michelle Poe Vokus (Justin), Kelly Smith Bradham (Drew), William Holland Poe (Ruth), Brigdon Kenton Foster, Jr., Kara Mitchell Johnson (Steve), Kate Marie Lunskis, Bennett Poe Foster (Jenny), Susanna Foster Brown (Daniel), Christopher Patrick Lunskis, Eric James Poe, Maribeth Ann Mitchell, Charles Weston Poe, Holland Elizabeth Poe, Barron Wilson Poe; his great-grandchildren, Elijah Smith, Breeanna Smith, Marlowe Foster; his sibling, Doris Poe Anderson; his first cousins, Douglas Poe Cone, Duane Cone; and many more wonderful nieces, nephews, and cousins. Beloved brother Charles Willoughby Poe passed away May 2, 2014. We love you Uncle Charlie! Bill is preceded in death by his mother, Zula Willoughby Poe; his father, Frederick Holland Poe; his sister-in-law, Haven Wilson Poe; his brother-in-law, Julian Anderson; his mother-in-law, Addie Arnold Blackburn; and his father-in-law- Edwin Eugene Blackburn. Serving as Pallbearers are Larry Harmon Smith, Gregory Elliott Mitchell, Timothy Patrick Lunskis, William Holland Poe, Brigdon Kenton Foster, Jr., Bennett Poe Foster, Christopher Patrick Lunskis, Eric James Poe, Charles Weston Poe, Barron Wilson Poe. Serving as Honorary Pallbearers are Johnnie Ranon, Dr. Tom Pinner, Alton White, Sr., Byrne Litsghi, Honorable E.J. Salcines, Al Austin, Garry Smith, Honorable Pam Iorio, Peggy Alison, Keith Johnston, Charlie Bailes, Alton B. Parker, Doug Hiers, George Levy, Michael B. Fernandez, Scotty Peek, and Mell Vaughan. The family expresses sincere gratitude to the Burgundy Hospice team: Marcia, Nancy, Hope, Ranetta, Brenda; Tampa General Hospital: Nurses and Doctors, H3, C9, and Third Floor Rehab. If you would like to give a gift, please make a donation to one of Bill's favorite organizations: Academy Prep Center of Tampa; Metropolitan Ministries, Bayshore Baptist Church, Lifepath Hospice, Tampa Theatre, Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay, or Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay. A visitation will be held on Monday, May 5, 2014 from 4pm until 7pm at Bayshore Baptist Church 3111 W. Morrison Avenue, Tampa. The graveside service will be Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 11am at Myrtle Hill Cemetery with memorial service starting at 3pm at Bayshore Baptist Church with reception at the church following the service. Visit the online guestbook at www.BlountCurryMacDill.com
Published in the Tampa Bay Times on May 4, 2014
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