Tributes rolling in for former candidate for governor Bill McBride remember him as a leader committed to service whose legacy in the Tampa Bay area went far beyond politics.
Yet, that is how many Floridians came to know McBride, as the Democrat who ran against Jeb Bush in 2002 and the husband of 2010 gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink.
McBride, 67, died over the weekend of an apparent heart attack while visiting family in North Carolina. He is survived by his wife and two children, Bert and Lexi.
In the Bay area, McBride is also known for his work as a lawyer. His former colleagues credit him with growing law firm Holland & Knight into a powerhouse firm with national name recognition and shaping it with an interest in pro bono work.
"I think he's an example to lawyers and other community leaders that you really need to stand up for what you believe in and be prepared to fight for it," said former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis (D-FL). "He did that his whole life."
Former colleagues described him as a leader who wanted to make his colleagues' practices and lives better.
"Bill had kind of a catch phrase," said Joe Varner, head of litigation at Holland & Knight. "He would usually end a conversation by saying, ‘Is there anything I can do for you? And he meant it."
Longtime friend Bob Bolt said he met McBride while the two were students at the University of Florida in 1963.
Aside from his professional accomplishments,Bolt said McBride was an "excellent athlete." He was also "dutiful" when it came to his family and his country, which he served in the U.S. Marine Corps, he said.
Bolt remembers McBride making arrangements to consolidate his business travel into one day so he could get back to see his family the same day, and making the trips to see his son play football at Stanford.
Bolt described his friend as "giving."
"It wasn't an act," he said. "He really was that person."
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