Who we lost: High-profile area deaths in 2013
Published: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 9:34 p.m.
North Central Florida lost several pillars of the region over the course of 2013.
From pioneering physician Dr. Cullen Banks and longtime Union County Sheriff Jerry Whitehead to the Rev. James Flannan Walsh and the owner of Hyde & Zeke Records Charlie Scales, there are several worth noting:
Dr. Cullen Banks
Dr. Cullen W. Banks, the first black physician to have full privileges at the former Alachua General Hospital, died on April 23. He was 88.
Banks practiced medicine in Gainesville for 46 years before retiring in 1996. He also was a founding trustee of North Florida Regional Medical Center, where he served as a member emeritus of the hospital's board of trustees.
In 1996, Banks received the Certificate of Merit, the highest state medical honor awarded by the Florida Medical Association. In 1998, he was honored by the Rotary Club of Gainesville and presented with the organization's annual Service Above Self award. Also in 1998, Banks received the 50-year Alumnus Award from Howard University.
Later this year, the city of Gainesville renamed a portion of Southeast 11th Avenue in Banks' honor.
Longtime Union County Sheriff Jerry Whitehead died of a heart attack on Dec. 18 at age 60 after a brief illness.
Whitehead had been sheriff of Union County since 1985 and was the longest-serving sheriff in Florida.
"It's a sad day for us," said Chief Deputy Garry Seay the day after Whitehead's death. "He was a great person and a great sheriff. He was a people person. He tried to help anybody and everybody."
Whitehead was born and raised in Union County. He worked for a gas company before joining the Sheriff's Office. Whitehead's father, John H. Whitehead, also served as sheriff.
Whitehead was married and the father of six children.
After serving as a B-17 pilot in World War II, Hershell Streit returned to Gainesville to open a Schwinn bicycle shop that he owned for 60 years.
Streit died of heart failure at age 92 on Feb. 14 at North Florida Regional Medical Center.
Streit once said his interest in bicycles started when he delivered The Gainesville Sun on a $2 bike. He worked at Rice Hardware and as a teenager moved to Tallahassee in 1939 to operate a bicycle shop for J.D. Rice.
In the Army Air Corps during World War II, Streit flew 25 missions over Europe as a B-17 pilot.
After the war, he got a job in South America flying over the Andes but said he couldn't speak Spanish so he returned to Gainesville to open Streit's Schwinn Cyclery in 1947.
Robert Zieger, a national expert on the history of labor, died on March 6 from a heart attack at age 74, leaving behind a legacy as a widely respected historian and distinguished professor at the University of Florida.
Zieger's reputation as an expert on the history of labor in the U.S. looms large. Twice he received the Philip Taft Labor History Book Award, the top prize for the best book on labor history. He edited several volumes on the subject and taught at several universities before settling in Gainesville to teach at UF in 1986. In 1998, he was appointed distinguished professor of history.
Dr. William Deal
Dr. William Deal, a former dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine, died on March 15 at age 76 in Birmingham, Ala., where he lived.
Deal's relationship to UF goes back to his residency, which he started in Gainesville in 1964 and returned to finish in 1969 after a stint in the Navy.
Deal was dean of the College of Medicine from 1977 to 1988 and also served as vice president for health affairs for most of that time.
After leaving UF, Deal became president of the Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine, and then senior vice president of medicine and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Deal also served as interim director and CEO of the UAB Health System.
The Rev. James Flannan Walsh
The Rev. James Flannan Walsh, a priest of the Diocese of St. Augustine who helped found two Catholic parishes in Gainesville, died on May 14 after a long illness at age 72.
Walsh helped to establish Holy Faith Parish in 1972 and Queen of Peace Parish in 1987.
Walsh was born in Kinnitty, Birr, County Offaly, Ireland, on Jan. 9, 1941, and attended St. Patrick College in Carlow for his seminary studies.
In August 1965, Walsh came to Florida to serve in the Diocese of St. Augustine, which at that time included all of Florida with the exception of the Archdiocese of Miami.
In 1969, he earned a master's in history from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Jon Thomas, who for 50 years served as a funeral director and owner of funeral homes and cemeteries, died on June 12 after being diagnosed in January with acute myeloid leukemia.
In a life spanning 74 years, Thomas also served as a state legislator, consulted funeral businesses throughout the U.S. and Canada and helped community organizations wherever he lived.
Starting in 2004, Jon and Pat Thomas owned Forest Meadows Funeral Homes and Cemeteries, Moring Funeral Home in Melrose, Evans-Carter Funeral Home in High Springs and A-Direct Cremations in Gainesville and Summerfield.
Best known as the owner of Hyde & Zeke Records, Charles Scales was a pillar of Gainesville's music community for three decades, playing guitar in his signature style with numerous bands.
Scales died on July 1 from what is believed to be a heart attack. He was 59.
Friends and family knew him as Charlie or Chaz, a man with an open heart who was easy to talk to and who showed those around him that he cared.
"I loved him like a brother," said Bill Perry, a friend and co-worker of more than 30 years.
In the early 1970s, Scales moved to Gainesville, where Perry said Scales had family in the area.
Scales started working at Hyde & Zeke shortly after it opened in January 1977. The store was sold in 1986 but fared poorly under the new owner. Scales bought Hyde & Zeke in 1990 and brought it back to life.
Eleanor 'Kit' Randall
Eleanor "Kit" Randall passed away on July 17 at age 61, but her legacy of contributions as a longtime Hawthorne city commissioner remains.
Randall joined the Hawthorne City Commission in 2004 and later went on to serve as mayor from 2009 to 2011. She remained on the board as a commissioner after her stint as mayor ended.
Randall was a second-generation commissioner, with her father having served before her. Hawthorne was her home, and she cared deeply about it, said City Manager Ellen Vause. Randall was involved with the community in and out of City Hall, Vause added.
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