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Kathy C.
Democrat FL 14

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  • Honoring Frederick Karl

    by Representative Kathy Castor

    Posted on 2013-03-14

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    CASTOR of florida in the house of representatives Thursday, March 14, 2013 Ms. CASTOR of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the life and accomplishments of Mr. Frederick Karl. His extensive contributions to numerous private and public agencies, including all levels of government in Florida, have left an unforgettable legacy for community leaders across the country to learn from and follow.

    Mr. Karl was born in Daytona, Florida, where he attended high school and was voted ``Most Personal'' by his senior class. He was born into the Great Depression, but also born into a family of public service; his mother, Mary, was a public school teacher who later founded a vocational school, now Daytona State College. She was inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame in 2011.

    The attack on Pearl Harbor compelled Mr. Karl to join the U.S. Army in 1942 and he was commissioned as a lieutenant at age 18. After fighting throughout Europe, he came home at the end of World War II, bearing the silver and bronze stars for valor and a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained from German shrapnel during the Battle of the Bulge. Upon his return, he pursued higher education and earned a law degree from Stetson University. He started a distinguished career practicing law.

    By 1956, Mr. Karl's calling for public service steered him towards politics. He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, where he served for eight years. His devotion to fairness and high ethical standards earned him the reputation as ``Conscience of the House''-- this would become his legacy.

    Serving as a state representative was the beginning of a long career in public service for Mr. Karl. After a run for the Governor's office, beginning in 1968, he spent four years in the state Senate. He presided over the trials of 52 officials suspended by the Governor, establishing a Rules for Suspension and Removal of Public Service from Office. In 1974, he was named Florida's first public counsel, a lawyer who argues for citizens on utility rate cases before the Florida Public Service Commission. In 1976, he became the last state Supreme Court Justice to be elected by Florida voters.

    In between service at the state level, Mr. Karl also contributed to his local community, as attorney for the Volusia County School District, and the Cities of Daytona Beach and Ormand Beach.

    In 1984, Mr. Karl's stature was called upon after ethics and creditability rocked Hillsborough County government following the arrest of several commissioners on bribery charges. Mr. Karl soon became Hillsborough County administrator, where he was known for his keen balance of thoughtfulness and decisiveness. He helped establish a new health care plan that integrated social services to provide a link to the various problems and challenges faced by indigent residents. The program has since been acclaimed nationally and served as a model for communities across the country. As a proponent of fairness, he took the lead on establishing diversity within county government, naming special officers that would ensure inclusion at all levels of government, from hiring, to procurement to leadership.

    Today, a 28-story building where most Hillsborough County government business is conducted bears Mr. Karl's name. Capitalizing on the real estate recession of the early 1990s, he engineered the purchase of the building to bring together more than 1,700 employees and more than 30 county departments and agencies under one roof, saving taxpayers money and increasing customer convenience for those seeking multiple services from their county government.

    Even after more than 50 years of dedication, Mr. Karl left Hillsborough County and continued sharing his wisdom and leadership. He served as president of Tampa General Hospital, lead attorney for the City of Tampa and a consultant for Poe Financial Group in Tampa as well as the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority.

    [[Page E299]] Mr. Karl passed away March 7, 2013, at age 88. He was a true professional who provided his tremendous legal skills, service and talent to our community, as well as to so many communities throughout Florida. We were fortunate to benefit from his commitment to fairness, diplomacy and fortitude, and we should forever be grateful for his contributions.


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