One of Tampa Bay’s best-known developers and champions has passed away. Al Austin died in his sleep last night at the age of 85.
Here is how Austin’s death is playing in the media:
Tampa Tribune, Tampa developer, GOP heavyweight Al Austin dies – died in his sleep of a heart attack Wednesday night. He was 85. Austin was best known for Republican political activism, having been the state party finance chairman and a nationally known fundraiser for Republican candidates… Tampa Bay Business Journal, Tampa Bay civic leader Al Austin dies at age 85 – He was a key player during the Republican National Convention in 2012, and provided business and civic support for various projects in Tampa… Bay News 9, Tampa developer, civic leader Al Austin dies at 85 – was also behind the development of the Westshore business district starting in the 1960s. He served as the head of the board that runs Tampa International Airport and was once named the Tampa Metro Civitan Club’s Citizen of the Year… Tampa Bay Times, Civic leader Al Austin, Tampa’s “Mr. Everything,” dies at age 85 – Austin was a go-to leader for the city of Tampa. Over the years, he worked to stave off cuts to MacDill Air Force Base and served as head of the board that runs Tampa International Airport. He was once named the Tampa Metro Civitan Club’s Citizen of the Year.
Here is a compilation of reactions to Austin’s passing from Florida’s elected officials and politicians.
U.S. Representative David Jolly:
“The Bay area lost a friend, a philanthropist and community leader today with the passing of Al Austin. He was a trusted confidant and counselor to so many elected officials and was the driving force behind bringing the 2012 Republican National Convention to Florida. But his legacy and imprint on the region goes far beyond politics. Tampa Bay would not be what it is today without the investment Al and Beverly Austin have made in the development of our region, but more importantly in organizations that continue to serve our community and support those in need.”
U.S. Representative David Mica:
“With the passing of Al Austin, Florida has lost a great citizen, entrepreneur and builder of the Republican Party in Florida. This is a significant loss for the Tampa Bay area.
“Al was one of the area’s strongest advocates, constantly striving to add positive development and economic opportunity to that region. Even as recently as yesterday, we were engaged with Mr. Austin in regard to his vision for a substantial development project he had proposed for downtown Tampa. Without Al Austin’s efforts, the 2012 Republican National Convention would not have taken place in the Tampa Bay area, nor would the GOP in Florida have grown to its position of prominence. “
Governor Rick Scott:
“Ann and I are saddened by the loss of Al Austin, one of the most influential Floridians to ever call Tampa Bay home. Never a stranger to hard work, Al invested in the city he loved so much, and our state is a better place because of his vision. He was a champion of growth and development, higher education, and economic freedom for everyone. Today, Ann and I join all Floridians as we mourn Al. We send our condolences to his family and those closest to him.”
Former Governor Jeb Bush:
“I was incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of my close friend, Al Austin. He was a great man. He loved Florida and loved this country. While many will remember Al for his pioneering role in shaping the Tampa Bay area, I hope he will just as fondly be remembered for his commitment to charity, his passion for education and innovation and for his kindness. Columba’s and my prayers are with Beverly and the entire Austin family. This is a sad time, but also an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the life of this extraordinary Floridian.”
Former Governor Charlie Crist:
“Al was my friend and a true leader in our community. I am grateful for the guidance he provided to me over my career, and Carole and I are saddened by his passing.”
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam:
“Al Austin was a Republican before anyone knew what those were. He brought the convention to Tampa, helped turn Florida red, and built the west shore area of Tampa, while building and keeping a reputation as a tenacious businessman and consummate gentleman. Tampa and Florida lost a giant today, and St. Peter better get ready because Al will undoubtedly hit him up to be on somebody’s host committee.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi:
“I am deeply saddened to learn of Al Austin’s passing. His tireless efforts on behalf of our country, our community, in pursuit of educational excellence and the Republican Party will long be remembered. Our thoughts and prayers are with Beverly, his family, and those of us who were mentored by his leadership, humbled by his patriotism, and inspired by his philanthropic endeavors.”
Speaker of the Florida House Will Weatherford via Twitter:
“Al Austin was a titan for the Tampa Bay community and for the Republican Party. He will be missed by all!”
Representative Dana Young via Twitter:
“Florida lost a very special person with the passing of the legendary Al Austin.”
Republican Party of Florida’s Lenny Curry:
“The news of Al Austin’s passing is unexpected and sad. Al was a great man who led an impressive life. His commitment to the Tampa Bay area and the Republican Party was unprecedented. My prayers are with his family during this time as we honor Al’s memory and the legacy he left behind.”
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn:
“Al Austin was a real estate pioneer who shaped the physical landscape of Tampa. He was the first to truly understand the value that being in close proximity to Tampa International Airport and Pinellas County could have on developing the West Shore Business District into what it is today.
“He believed in his country, his party, and the importance of public service. His decades-long effort to bring the Republican National Convention to Tampa will continue to pay dividends, and it would not have occurred without his hard work and faith.
“From his contributions to the University of Tampa to his work on behalf of MacDill Air Force Base, Al always put his city first. I will miss his guidance and remain grateful for all of he has done for Tampa.”
Tampa Chamber of Commerce:
“Our community lost a tremendous business leader with the passing of Al Austin. Al is largely responsible for the development of the Westshore area and Tampa’s successful hosting of the 2012 Republican National Convention. He leaves behind a great legacy of civic leadership and community impact. Our thoughts are with his wife Beverly and their family during this time.”