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Lawyer's efforts to be honored

Published May 30, 2007


Roy G. Harrell Jr. talked of leaving footprints in the sands of time.

As a partner in the law firm Holland and Knight, former chairman of the governing board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, commonly known as Swiftmud, and energetic civic leader, Harrell made his mark in the communities in which he served.

After his death in January 2006, friends and admirers sought ways to honor him.

At 5:15 p.m. Thursday, a bronze bas-relief memorial will be installed at BayWalk, just outside Johnny Rockets restaurant. And on June 6, officials with Swiftmud and the Pier Aquarium will dedicate the Roy G. Harrell Jr. Education Station at Spa Beach.

Harrell was involved in numerous activities focused on redevelopment in St. Petersburg, including the renovation of the Pier.

"He was in the business of getting things done, " said his daughter, Stacey Springsteen. She, her husband, Joe, and their son Maxwell were in on a ski trip to Aspen, Colo., with her father and other friends and family when he had the heart attack that took his life at age 61.

"He passionately believed that every person should give back to their community, " she said.

Harrell was a mentor to a number of younger professionals, including David Punzak, who now is a partner at Carlton Fields and led the effort for the memorial at BayWalk.

"Roy had a unique ability to empathize, to sympathize and evoke action in other people, " Punzak said. "When he got involved with an organization, he wanted to lead the organization."

Starting out as a lawyer, Punzak said, he learned much from Harrell.

"Your reputation is everything, " Harrell told him. "It's irreplaceable. It's not worth an easy buck or an easy transaction. You don't want to do anything that would harm or impair your reputation."

Springsteen said her father also helped a number of women advance in their careers.

"He believed women could do anything they set out to accomplish, and he actively supported a number of them in the local business community, " she said.

As she was growing up, Springsteen said, her father's day job was volunteering in the community, and he spent long nights laboring to ensure the success of his banking and real estate legal practice.

"During the week, he would park himself at the dining room table and work until 12 or 1 a.m., " Springsteen said. "And then he'd turn around the next day and do it all over again."

Her father was a perfectionist, even with the landscaping at his home. He hired a lawn service, but on weekends, he could be found pulling weeds, trimming hedges and mowing grass that had been cut days earlier.

In both his business and personal commitments, Harrell followed up, no matter the size of the job. "He was very meticulous, " Springsteen said. "If he agreed to do something, he jumped in full force, with no delay. Nothing was ever 'idle' as it related to a commitment he made. He was a man of his word."

Harrell's contributions earned numerous recognitions. In 2001, the Suncoasters named him Mr. Sun, an acknowledgment of his business leadership and volunteer work.

[Last modified May 30, 2007, 07:11:15]

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