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Hundreds turn out for Bill McBride memorial in Tampa

6:50 PM, Dec 28, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - Friends and family said goodbye Friday to Tampa lawyer Bill McBride. He died of a heart attack on December 22 while vacationing with family in North Carolina. 

McBride ran unsuccessfully for governor against Jeb Bush in 2002.

The Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church in South Tampa was filled to capacity with family and friends and the overflow room spilled into the courtyard.

See Also: Bay area remembers Bill McBride

Bill McBride was born in Illinois, but he was a Floridian at heart. His friends say they will remember the man who has always been there for them and anyone in need.

At home in their family church, Bill McBride's wife and children share the love for their husband and father.

"For a million reasons my dad is my hero," says Lexis McBride Crawford, McBride's daughter.

Lexis says her father wore many hats: a proud Marine, lawyer, philanthropist, friend, little league coach, fisherman and cook.  But she says the hat he wore best was the one of dad. She recalls the year 2002 when McBride ran for Florida governor.

Lexis says, "I'll never forget he'd travel home every night during the campaign, not just to sleep in his own bed but to wake me up the next morning tell me he loved me and ask me about the best part of my day."

Bert McBride speaks of the lessons his father taught one as a teenager over a tossed candy wrapper he walked by on the street. 

Bert says, "He says it just takes a minute of your time to pick that up, toss it in the trash and in that second you make the world a better place. It was a small thing but that stuck with me."

McBride's high school friend Bob Bolt remembers the early years.

"At that point, we were handball playing, girl chasing, beer drinking buddies," says Bob. He adds, "That friendly, spontaneity, exuberance, happiness that Bill had just so much fun to be with him."

But McBride had a serious side, says his best friend Buddy Schulz. McBride served a year in Vietnam. It's a tour of duty that earned him a Bronze Star. Schulz says McBride didn't talk much about his days on the battlefield. Schulz says when he met some of McBride's men years later, the Marines called him a hero.

Schulz says, "They still saluted him, they still called him 'Sir' and credited him with bringing them home alive."

McBride, a man his friends say dedicated his life to family and community.

Schulz says, "He showed me what's important is, it's not who you come to be, it's who you become along the way."

McBride's wife Alex Sink, Florida's former Chief Financial Officer and a gubernatorial candidate herself in 2010, did not speak at today's service. McBride was 67 years old.

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