At Jerry Figurski’s funeral, Tony Griffith bumped into another lawyer he knew.
Griffith was there because Figurski was like a father figure to him, he said, an example of the kind of lawyer he wanted to be.
His colleague was there for the same reason.
“Turns out he did that for a lot of people.”
Figurski, who died April 2 at age 77 of natural causes, served as an assistant Pinellas County prosecutor, Pasco County prosecutor and retired from private practice in 2019. His career included major cases that shaped Tampa Bay , from the “water wars” in the late ’70s and early ’80s to an ordinance banning nudity in the late ’70s.
While Figurski’s career was public, he devoted his time off to cheering on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and supporting community organizations, including ARC Tampa Bay, which supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Jerry really loved life,” his wife Melody said. “And he loved participating.”
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The Figurski family moved from Ohio to Florida in 1975 and feared it would be difficult to settle down.
“What we discovered was simple,” Figurski wrote in an autobiography he made for his family. “We were welcomed to Clearwater by individuals, women, men and children… Life was good and I believed without question that God was good.
The Figurskis had two children – daughter Tracy, who has an intellectual disability, and son David.
The family became involved with UPARC, now Arc Tampa Bay, to find a school and eventually a group home for their daughter.
Since forming the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the family has only missed a handful of home games.
“We’ve been through a lot,” Melody Figurski said, “but we loved the Bucs and never stopped loving the Bucs.”
In his autobiography, Figurski wrote about the role he played in the laws that helped shape Tampa Bay in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
“One of the county’s main problems was what was called the ‘water war,'” he wrote. “Three counties, Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and three cities, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa needed additional water availability and each of the aforementioned government units were looking into these sites referenced above to purchase land to provide more water service availability. to his own people. Disputes ensued and water wars continued. In the end, through the hard work of Senator Jack Latvala, a Pinellas County Senator, the Tampa Bay Water Authority brought together all of these government units to quell the water wars with a board to govern and a staff to operate. water systems as one for the benefit of all. »
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“The Pinellas County Sheriff met with me wanting to have a county ordinance prohibiting nudity in bars and other places… A few years later, I got a call from an assistant Pinellas County district attorney. He was instructed to challenge the ladies who were selling hot dogs on the side of the roads while dressed in flip flops.The lawyer sought advice based on the nudity ordinance approved years before.I n I only participated in discussing the issue. Hot dog stands have been eliminated.
Figurski eventually went into private practice, served as president of the Clearwater Bar Association and a member of the Clearwater Community Development Board. He was someone who was on top of every detail, said Arlen Tillis, senior vice president of Tibbetts Lumber.
“I’ve been in Pasco all my life, and I think Jerry was just one of those types of people who when you went to the county knew everyone,” Tillis said.
In 2013, the Figurskis were recognized as Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater for their volunteer work.
Tony Griffith got to know Figurski through Leadership Pinellas, and eventually the two joined a Friday morning Bible study and prayer group.
Towards the end of Figurski’s life, he and Griffith walked around Figurski’s neighborhood, and Figurski always pointed out his neighbors and the good things they did, Griffith said.
At the end of each walk, Figurski made him believe that there were many good people in the world.
Poynter news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story.
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