Farewell to these famous Floridians
The past year has seen a number of notable Floridians pass away.
Veteran air racer and stunt pilot Jimmy Leeward was killed Sept. 16 when his modified P-51 Mustang crashed during an air show near Reno, Nev. Ten spectators were also killed and 69 were injured when the plane crashed into the grandstands after an apparent mechanical failure. Leeward was a thrill seeker whose skills as a stunt pilot were featured in films such as Amelia and Cloud Dancer. He owned the Leeward Air Ranch in Ocala.
[Photo: The Reno Gazette-Journal]
In 1967, Claude Kirk became Florida's 36th governor and the first Republican since Reconstruction to hold the office. He helped draft and enact a new state constitution, signed legislation that helped bring Walt Disney World to Florida and created a statewide environmental protection agency. A colorful figure with a penchant for shaking up the establishment, he sparked considerable controversy when he hired the Wackenhut private detective agency to help wage his "war on crime" in Florida — an effort that led to the creation of the agency known today as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
"I'd like to be remembered, period. I would hope as somebody who saw the opportunity to change government if it needs to be changed."
— Former Gov. Claude R. Kirk Jr. in a May 2010 interview with Florida Trend