Former St. Petersburg Mayor Randy Wedding dies at 77

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C. Randolph “Randy” Wedding, who rode his architectural visions for the city into the mayor’s office, died Monday afternoon at 77, his office reported via Andrew Meachem.

Mr. Wedding died at Palms of Pasadena Hospital during surgery, according to his secretary. He had suffered respiratory problems and other ailments.

Mr. Wedding served as mayor from 1973 to 1975, but that was only part of a lifelong relationship between the St. Petersburg native and his city.

His legacy, like his roots, runs deep. Mr. Wedding designed the original Busch Gardens, a project in which his father, Charles Wedding, was the landscape architect, and designed many landmark buildings in St. Petersburg. As president of Wedding, Stephenson & Ibarguen Architects and Wedding + Stephenson Architects, his legacy includes the Plaza office complex, the Florida Federal Tower, the downtown building of the Tampa Bay Times and part of All Children’s Hospital.

A decade ago, he was one of four partners The Cloisters on Beach Drive, a high-end condominium tower that has been called an important step toward downtown redevelopment.

Mr. Wedding also lent his expertise freely to city undertakings, such as his recent chairmanship of the Pier Advisory Task Force.

“Randy was very bright, he was resourceful, he was energetic,” said Bob Ulrich, a former St. Petersburg mayor and one of four partners in The Cloisters. “To a great degree, he could be described as a visionary.”

Realtor Jack Bowman, another member of the group that developed The Cloisters, agreed. “I do think it was Randy’s vision that jump-started the renaissance of downtown,” said Bowman, 80.

In 2003 he was in the news when Mayor Rick Baker asked him to form a citizens coalition to study the future of Albert Whitted airport, the subject of countless arguments over decades.

Mr. Wedding’s group, the Airport Task Force, rejected Baker’s proposal to eliminate one runway at Albert Whitted airport, freeing up some city-owned land for private development.

“In St. Petersburg, it has never been our practice to sell waterfront property,” Mr. Wedding said. “Now’s not a good time to start.”

He was a member and a past president of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, which helped create the Airport Task Force.

It was not the first time the community activist found himself helping to shape the city’s vision of itself. In 1993 he led a group called VOICE, or Votes of Informed City Electors, that successfully campaigned to create a strong mayor form of government.

Four years later, Mr. Wedding, who saw himself as a “change agent,” focused his energies on knocking David Fischer out of the mayor’s office and replacing him with political newcomer Bill Klein, a little-known retired Army general.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.