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Clark Jordan-Holmes
Manager of MediationFla
In Fond Memory of Florida's Bill McBride

Florida and this earth lost a giant just before Christmas. There are some people one respects and admires and, in rare cases there are those deserving of love on top of that respect. Bill McBride was such a man. He was such a lawyer, such a family man and such a political man of action. He was forceful in his advocacy, fair in his management and gentle in his human relations. I choose to believe he remains a force in this universe.

Bill McBride, who unsuccessfully ran for governor against Jeb Bush in 2002, was a big man physically, but more importantly, he was a big personality and a big soul. He loved this state. He loved the Democratic Party. He loved his wife, Alex Sink, formerly Florida’s chief financial officer. He loved his son, Bert, and daughter, Lexi. 

In 1997, when he was the managing partner of the Holland & Knight law firm, I got to experience him as a member of Leadership Florida’s Class XV. This Florida Chamber program puts 50 potential leaders into a program for six or so long weekends, across the state, for a condensed course on all things Florida.

Our class included Bill, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and John Peyton, subsequently elected mayor of Jacksonville. Many of the programs included Bill in the back of the room where he was analyzing data and drafting personal evaluations on each of the attorneys in Holland & Knight’s world-wide offices, while simultaneously listening and participating in discussions about Florida’s past, present and future. He did both functions passionately, just as he lived his life passionately.

I will always remember Bill, not because he ran for governor, but because he was a great man in every facet of his life. As a father running for office and a husband supporting the subsequent gubernatorial campaign of his beloved Alex, he always knew that being at home every night was the highest priority of his life. He was proud of the reforms and growth he carried forward at Holland & Knight, but bragging about the athletic and other feats of his son and daughter was when you saw his face brighten more than any other time.

He was passionate about his politics, but he was a too-rare man who lived American values, including respect for those of opposing parties and beliefs. He fought for his beliefs and values, but did not question or attack the motivation or character of his opponents. He was a passionate lawyer whose word was his bond. He believed in, and lived up to, the honor of his profession. In every aspect of his life, he quietly called each of us to be better men and women by modeling the way that every religion asks us to be.

A powerful and beautiful piece of our cosmic foundation has moved on to another corner of God’s creation. We can share our sorrow and our tears with Alex, Bert and Lexi, and Bill will appreciate that. But I believe that Bill would much rather want us to remember him by acting to make this a better state.  Some areas in which he would call us to act are education and gun control. There is no excuse and no benefit to Florida not being number 1 in education. There is no excuse and no benefit to Florida allowing automatic and other weapons to be so available and prevalent. Actions in these areas would please both Bill and the precious children of Sandy Hook that I can see him organizing into a heavenly soccer team.

We miss you already, Bill.

Clark Jordan-Holmes, manager of MediationFla in Tampa, wrote this on behalf of Leadership Florida Class XV. 

© Florida Voices

Published Sunday, December 30, 2012