Joseph “Joe” Bondi died Jan. 8, after a struggle with leukemia.
Bondi, 76, was the father of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and a part-time Longboat Key resident.
On Wednesday morning, Pam Bondi released the following statement:
“My beautiful Daddy went to Heaven yesterday. He was surrounded by all his family. He fought a great fight with leukemia. Thanks for all of your prayers and support. We are so heartbroken but comforted to know he is with our Lord. Please continue to pray for my family during this most difficult time in our lives.”
Born Aug. 15, 1936, he was a Tampa native and a U.S. Navy veteran.
He graduated from Hillsborough High School, where he was a member of the school’s Hall of Fame. He went on to earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Florida.
Bondi was a pioneer in the middle-school movement, organizing one of the first five middle schools in the nation.
He was a professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Education from 1965 to 2003, author of more than 25 educational textbooks and a partner in international education consulting firm Wiles, Bondi and Associates.
Bondi also served as a Temple Terrace city councilman from 1970 to 1974 and as the city’s mayor from 1974 to 1978.
Bondi listed his accomplishments as mayor in a May 2012 interview with the Longboat Observer, saying he was responsible for the building of City Hall, a library, a family recreation center and a police station.
“I did it all in four years without raising taxes,” he said at the time.
Bondi vacationed on Longboat Key since childhood and also recounted the summer days he spent on the island’s beaches during World War II.
He and his best friend, Tommy, would disappear for hours at a time playing with turtles, fishing, swimming and romping around on the shores.
The Bondis purchased their unit at Continental’s Sea Club III in February 1987, according to Manatee County property records.
Bondi told the Longboat Observer that his three children, Pam, Beth and Bradley, continue to visit the Key every year and rent the apartment above their parents’ unit.
Joan Webster, a former Longboat Key mayor and retired education administer, became friends with Bondi and attended various meetings with him.
“He’s a gentleman’s gentleman,” she said, referring to him in the present tense. “He’s very bright, and he cares about the people he’s serving.”
Although the Bondi family has maintained a low profile in the area, “they have a certain love for Longboat Key,” Webster said.
Bondi is survived by his wife of 52 years, Patsy; daughters, Pam Bondi and Beth Bondi McIntyre; son, Brad Bondi; sister Frances Bondi Glenn; and six grandchildren.
A celebration of life service will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 304 Druid Hills Road, Tampa, Fla., 33617. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Metropolitan Ministries, metromin.org.