Former Tampa Mayor William F. Poe, who led the effort to create the Tampa Riverwalk and later fought plans to build Raymond James Stadium, died at his home on Davis Islands late Thursday night.
Poe was 82.
He had spent the last few days of his life under hospice care, said his son Bill F. Poe Jr.
""He died peacefully,"" his son said.
This summer he would have turned marked his 60th wedding anniversary to his wife, Betty, who survives.
Poe is also survived by his five children, Bill Poe Jr., Keren Smith, Marylyn Lunskis, Janice Mitchell and Charles E. Poe. He had 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren with a fourth on the way, his eldest son said.
Poe, who started his own insurance agency in Tampa in 1956, served as mayor from 1974 to 1979.
""He was an outstanding guy. He helped me be the kind of guy I am today,"" said Tampa City Councilman Charlie Miranda, who was elected to the council the same year Poe was elected mayor.
""He was a visionary thinking not for today but for tomorrow,"" Miranda said.
As mayor, Poe assembled land along South Franklin Street into the ""Quad Block,"" a project that enabled the construction of One Tampa City Center and what is now the Tampa Downtown Hilton.
Poe also laid the first planks of the future Riverwalk, which will be largely finished this fall after being handed down from mayor to mayor for nearly 40 years.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn invited Poe to speak at a ceremony last summer announcing the start of the last major segment of the Riverwalk between Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and MacDill Park.
""I tried to do it 40 years ago. I think I put about 10 planks in - and I had to buy the planks,"" Poe joked at the time.
Former Mayor Pam Iorio said Poe's death marked the passing of a great civic leader.
""His vision was to make his hometown of Tampa into a first-class city, and his life's work helped make that happen,"" Iorio said. ""He will be greatly missed. His love for Tampa has made our city a better place.""
Published in TBO.com from May 3 to June 1, 2014