Thursday, March 7, 2013

Legendary Hillsborough County lawmaker Fred Karl dies at the age of 88

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 9:10 AM

Karl.jpg
Fred Karl, who during his distinguished political career served as a Florida Supreme Court Justice, state legislator, Hillsborough County Attorney and Administrator and most recently as Tampa City Attorney under Mayor Pam Iorio, died earlier this morning at the age of 88.

That news was transmitted to members of the Tampa Bay area media by Iorio, a friend of Karl and his family.

Fred Karl was born in 1924 in Daytona Beach, and at the age of 18 in 1942 fought in World War II, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and saw action as a tank platoon leader in Europe. Wounded during the Battle of the Bulge, he was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.

In a statement released this morning, Iorio said, "Fred Karl was born to be a public servant. He tackled issues with a sense of fairness, respect and honesty, always reflecting his personal and professional high standards. His values and character were shaped in large part by his generation that viewed duty, sacrifice and civic engagement as necessary components of a full and meaningful life."

She added that he was a "friend and a mentor who always generously shared his wisdom and support. He will be deeply missed by all whose lives he touched and shaped."

At the age of 40 in 1954, Karl ran for governor but was unsuccessful. Two years later he was elected to the state house, taking office in 1957 as part of the "57 Club" that consisted of mostly Democratic freshman members of the legislature who challenged the “Pork Chop Gang” of rural North Florida. That group controlled Florida politics from the 30's to the 60's, supporting racial segregation and other extremely conservative positions.

After serving eight years in the House he served in the Senate from 1964 until 1971. He then retired and returned to private practice, but then became involved in local government, holding positions of Chief Legal Officer and County Administrator for Hillsborough County, attorney to the Volusia County School Board, and District Attorney for Ormond Beach and Daytona Beach.

In 1994 he was asked to lead Tampa General Hospital.

And after Mayor Pam Iorio was elected Mayor in 2003, she asked Karl to return to local government on an interim basis as the city's attorney and did so at the age of 80.

In 2010 he published his memoir, The 57 Club:My Four Decades in Florida Politics.

The County Center in downtown Tampa that serves as a one-stop center for Hillsborough County services was named after Karl in 2000.

This short video encapsulates some highlights of Karl's career.

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