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Monday, Dec 22, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Recalling the clock man, the advocates

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I don’t have to tell anyone about how things change. It seems to happen more rapidly in a large city than a small one, where you come back after a year or so and the only change is the weather.

Leave Tampa for a few weeks and the world changes.

It’s been less than a month and yet, finally getting to TBO.com on the computer, I discovered I’d lost three friends.

Two of them, Dottie Berger MacKinnon and Colleen Bevis, were known broadly in the community and the third, my old friend Stan Good, was the guy who kept me on time.

Time is like that; we don’t have nearly enough of it.

A lot of you probably knew Stan, or at least his place on MacDill Avenue just south of Kennedy Boulevard with the big clock out front. Stan had a way with clocks. If you ever tried to squeeze your way through his house/store with its clocks and fans and pieces of all things mechanical, you might wonder how someone that scattered could be as precise as his timepieces.

But he managed to keep my collection of clocks our family hauled back from Germany bonging on the right hour or cuck-cooing close to it.

My only problem with Stan was what he really wanted to be was a country music singer. To that end he wrote and recorded stacks of songs, each one the “one” that was going to launch his career. They weren’t really all that bad, but well, it’s a good thing he knew how to fix clocks.

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All of you knew Dottie Berger MacKinnon and her relentless work with children in need. I can remember years ago when the late Bob Thomas, who gave so much to our community, called me and said he was going to pick me up. A few minutes later and I was in his Mercedes, along with Dottie Berger, going to Lutz and then into the woods where I thought he was going to sink the car into a swamp.

We climbed out and went to a clearing where Thomas told us to hold hands and kneel down and pray. When he was done, I looked up and Dottie was crying. Thomas said this was where he was going to build Joshua House, a home for abused and abandoned children. Along with Olin Mott and a few others, he did just that, but it was Dottie’s spirit I believe that made the place the success it is today.

You may not have known Colleen Lunsford Bevis, who died recently at the age of 97. But it was Colleen who was the county’s true champion of children. It was her efforts that led to the creation of the Hillsborough County Children’s Board.

Talk about a true pioneer in our community. She was born here in 1913 and for more than a half century she fought for the needs of children. There are Colleen Lunsford Bevis buildings at the University of South Florida and in town and her pride and joy Colleen Bevis Elementary.

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That’s what I don’t like about being away for any length of time. Our community has so many caring and dedicated people who we really don’t appreciate until they are gone.

We need to take the time to remember them while they are still with us and honor them for what they have brought to our lives.

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