St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Eminent home builder emphasized community

Austin L. Fillmon was an early proponent of multifamily housing. He died Sunday from cancer.

Published March 2, 2004

Austin L. Fillmon, a prominent developer in Pasco and Pinellas counties who was a member of the Florida Housing Hall of Fame, died unday (Feb. 29, 2004) at Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs.

The cause was cancer, said his wife, Donna. Mr. Fillmon, who lived in Tarpon Springs, was 75.

In the late 1970s and early '80s, Mr. Fillmon's company, Austed Construction Inc., built Sand Pebble Pointe in Port Richey and Windward Cove in New Port Richey. He also worked with several large development companies, including Behring Corp. in Pinellas and Boyce Built Homes and Minieri Communities, both in Pasco.

A Clearwater native, Mr. Fillmon dropped out of school at age 14 to join the Navy during World War II. Just as he was to go overseas, he once told a reporter, the Navy discovered he had lied about his age and sent him home.

Mr. Fillmon graduated from Clearwater High School in 1947 and got a job in the composing room of the St. Petersburg Times and Evening Independent, then went to work for other newspapers before turning to building.

"In the late 1940s, if you were out of school in Florida, there was nothing to do but become a waiter or a lifeguard," Mr. Fillmon said in a 1988 interview.

The interview came as Mr. Fillmon was named president of the Florida Home Builders Association. He appeared on the cover of the trade group's magazine in a pinstripe suit, red striped shirt and red tie. He was named builder of the year in 1989.

Paul Thompson, the group's executive vice president, had known Mr. Fillmon since the 1970s. "He was a very articulate and forceful spokesperson for the home building industry," Thompson said Monday. Mr. Fillmon was an early proponent of multifamily housing and stressed the need to build community relations, Thompson said.

Mr. Fillmon is one of 43 members of the Florida Housing Hall of Fame. In nominating him in 1994, a friend credited Mr. Fillmon with creating purchasing, job management and fiscal tracking models in the 1960s that still were in use.

Mr. Fillmon organized and solicited labor and materials to build the San Antonio Boys Village and was director of the Florida Family Network for Runaway Children.

"He felt comfortable with the governor of the state or a ditch digger," his wife said. "There wasn't anyone he didn't get along with."

Survivors include a daughter, Michelle Mutz of New Port Richey; a son, Craig of Spring Hill; two brothers, Vernon of Bushnell and Ronald of Brooksville; a sister, Joann Dunlap of Largo; five grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Calling hours will he held Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Michels & Lundquist Funeral Home, 5228 Trouble Creek Road, New Port Richey. A funeral Mass will be held 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Vincent Depaul Catholic Church, Holiday. Burial will follow at Grace Memorial Gardens, Hudson. The family suggests donations to St. Vincent Depaul Catholic Church or St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Woodsville, N.H.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.