Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly on Wednesday presented an American flag to Laura Neri, the widow of community activist Ray Neri, who died Jan. 3.
The flag was one that U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis had had flown over the Capitol especially for Mrs. Neri.
“Ray Neri was a special person,” Jolly said. “Ray touched peoples’ lives.”
Jolly was only one of many of Pinellas’ political leaders who came to Neri’s memorial service. Others included Pinellas County commissioners Pat Gerard, Karen Seel, Ken Welch, Dave Eggers and Charlie Justice. Former state Rep. Jim Frishe also attended. Pinellas Commissioner Janet Long, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and former county Commissioner Neil Brickfield spoke during the ceremony.
“There will never be another Ray Neri, but we can continue what he started,” Gualtieri said.
Although most had helped Neri with projects to benefit the unincorporated Lealman area, Jolly had helped him in another way.
Neri was diagnosed with a heart ailment that the Veterans Administration could not treat. Neri appealed to Jolly, who pushed the VA into giving him permission to go elsewhere for help. A Tampa surgeon was successful in saving Neri.
Neri died Jan. 3 at Northside Hospital where he was taken after falling at home.
Neri had served on boards of the Lealman Community Association, which he headed for several years; the Juvenile Welfare Board; the Sheriff’s Police Athletic League; Keep Pinellas Beautiful; the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club; and the Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council.