Melrose - Dr. Frank J. Lagotic, 69, of Melrose, Florida passed away on February 19 at Haven Hospice in Gainesville, Florida following a lengthy illness.

Frank was born in Valley Stream, New York on February 7, 1945 to the late William Frank and Geraldine McCarthy Lagotic. Frank grew up in Miami, Florida where he attended Christopher Columbus Catholic High School. An impressive athlete, he won the 1962 state high school cross country championship. For his athletic achievements, Frank is a member of the Christopher Columbus Athletic Hall of Fame.

Following high school, Frank received an appointment to West Point. He later transferred to the University of Florida where he won the Southeastern Conference championship in cross-country in 1967. He was a University of Florida letterman in Track & Field and Cross Country, and a member of the Florida Track & Field Hall of Fame. Frank was also a founding member of the Florida Track Club. After earning his bachelor's degree in 1967, Frank went on to receive a master's degree in exercise physiology and in 1977 was awarded a doctorate degree in education administration.

Dr. Lagotic was committed to education, and directly enriched the lives of thousands of students, many of whom followed his lead to become teachers. He was a professor at Santa Fe College for 42 years, and as the senior faculty member, was selected to lead commencement ceremonies by carrying the mace. He was first elected to the Alachua County School Board in 1982 where he provided dedicated service for twelve years. Frank was also a member of the Kiwanis Club of Gainesville.

Frank is survived by his adoring wife of 14 years Jean Westin Lagotic, daughter Kristie Evans (Chad), son Justin Lagotic, son Jason Westin (Shannon), son Ryan Westin and four beloved grandchildren: Catharine Claire Evans, Caleb Evans, James Westin and Cynthia Westin. Predeceased by his brother Timothy Lagotic, Frank is also survived by his sisters Geri Alweiss, Vournee (Les) Wohlers, and his brother Christopher Lagotic.

Diagnosed with Stage Four Prostate Cancer in July of 2011, the family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to the medical staff at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and especially to Drs. Jason and Shannon Westin for coordinating many aspects of Frank's care.

A private, family service will be held. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made towards the establishment of the Frank J. Lagotic educational scholarship at Santa Fe College


Published in Gainesville Sun from Feb. 23 to Feb. 24, 2014