February 24, 2018

In Memoriam

Farewell to these famous Floridians

The past year has seen a number of notable Floridians pass away.

Amy Keller | 12/19/2011

Lee Roy Selmon, 56

[Photo: St. Petersburg Times]

A two-time college All American for the Oklahoma Sooners, Lee Roy Selmon was the No. 1 pick in the 1976 draft, the first selection of the brand-new Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise. The defensive lineman went on to the NFL Hall of Fame, posting 78½ sacks and earning six consecutive Pro Bowl selections during his nine-year career with the team before retiring after the 1984 season because of a back injury. He remained in Tampa and helped establish the University of South Florida's football program, serving as associate athletic director from 1993-2001 and athletic director from 2001-04. He also served as a bank executive and started his own restaurant chain, Lee Roy Selmon's. In 1996, Tampa's Southern Crosstown Expressway was renamed the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway. Selmon died of complications from a stroke.

E. Thom Rumberger, 79

Thom Rumberger was a charismatic trial attorney, environmental advocate and political strategist. He helped build one of Florida's leading product liability law firms, Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell, and was a tireless champion of the Everglades, serving as a key player in the multibillion-dollar Everglades restoration plan. A one-time candidate for attorney general, Rumberger was also passionate about politics. He chaired Florida Lawyers for President Bush and served as Florida general counsel for President George H.W. Bush in the 1988 and 1992 presidential campaigns, as well as in the Bob Dole campaign. He was a key player in the Republican Party's 1992 redistricting efforts.
He died of complications related to diabetes.

Thomas Rumberger
[Photo: Mark Wallheiser]

Donald Charles McClosky, 84

Donald Charles McClosky
Broward County attorney Don McClosky was a founding member of the Ruden McClosky law firm and was one of the pre-eminent land-use attorneys in south Florida. He played a role in the development of countless high-rises and worked for such notable developers as H. Wayne Huizenga, Charlie Palmer, GL Homes and Lennar. His firm, Ruden McClosky, filed for bankruptcy last month, less than two months after McClosky's death. In a 2004 interview with South Florida CEO magazine, McClosky was asked how he'd like to be remembered. His answer: "I would like to be loved in life, and I would like to be respected, but if there comes a time when I have to choose, I'll choose respected." He died of cancer.

Dave Bitner, 62

Dave Bitner
The chairman of the Republican Party of Florida died following a battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. The Tallahassee lobbyist and former state House member representing Charlotte County was elected Florida GOP chairman in January 2011 following a financial scandal that took down the party's previous chairman, Jim Greer. Just three months after being elected, Bitner announced he had ALS, a neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He stepped down from his post on Sept. 1 and died the following week.

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