College mourns loss of devoted alumnus

The Warrington community suffered the loss of one of its greatest supporters Thursday when William F. Poe (BSBA ’53) passed away at the age of 82.

Poe, who served as the Mayor of Tampa from 1974 to 1979, supported the College’s programs and activities for more than 30 years. His most influential contribution was a $2 million endowment—given by his children in their parents’ honor—that established the Elizabeth B. & William F. Poe, Sr. Center for Business Ethics Education and Research in 2004. Prior to the establishment of the center, Bill and Betty Poe funded the Poe Business Ethics Program within the College’s Department of Management in 1998.

“The passing of Bill Poe is indeed a sad occurrence,” said Dr. John Kraft, Dean of the Warrington College of Business Administration. “Bill had a long and significant involvement with the Tampa community, the University of Florida and the Warrington College of Business Administration. His creativity and interest in ethics resulted in the formation of the center which bears his name. His longtime civic and University involvement will be difficult to replace. He was a great Gator.”

William F. Poe was a pivotal business and political figure in Tampa, and a dedicated alumnus to the College.

William F. Poe was a pivotal business and political figure in Tampa, and a dedicated alumnus to the College.

Poe fashioned one of the most influential and productive business careers in Tampa. He founded Poe & Associates, a firm specializing in advising clients in the Florida insurance market, in 1956—only three years after earning his undergraduate business degree. In 1993, Poe & Associates merged with Brown & Brown, Inc., to become Poe & Brown, which was then the largest insurance brokerage firm in the Southeast.

After establishing a successful business career, Poe entered the political arena and won a special election in 1974 to become Tampa’s mayor. He won re-election the next year and served a four-year term. One of his greatest accomplishments as mayor was the redevelopment of what is known as the “Quad Block,” a section of Tampa that now houses the Hilton Tampa Downtown Hotel and helped galvanize the city’s growth downtown. Poe also helped the development of the Tampa Riverwalk, which is nearing completion this year.

Poe was a member of Warrington’s Business Advisory Council since 1981, and played an integral role in the growth of the Poe Center and ethics programs. The Poe Center has welcomed more than 235 speakers to campus, and its annual ethics officers’ conference attracts the top corporate ethics officers from around the nation.

Poe is survived by his wife, Betty; children Bill Poe Jr., Keren Smith, Marilyn Lunskis, Janice Mitchell and Charlie E. Poe (BSBA ’96); 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.