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Saturday, Aug 30, 2014
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Tom Locke, a champion for improvement to the University Area, dies at 66


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Thomas Locke, a champion for improvement to the University Area who was general manager of the University Mall for 17 years died Monday morning from congestive heart failure.

He was 66.

Locke was highly respected and did anything to help people in the community, said Commissioner Victor Crist, who knew Locke for 20 years.

"There's people who give to get recognized for it and there's people who give for the sake of giving and that's Tom Locke," Crist said. "He gave and kept giving until he gave out."

Locke's son, Stephen Locke, 47, said his father was a wonderful man with a great sense of humor.

"We couldn't go anywhere without anyone saying 'Hey Tom, how you doing?'" Stephen Locke said.

Locke was the treasurer of the University Area Community Development Corporation, Inc., an organization working to improve the community surrounding the University of South Florida. He was involved with the organization for about 15 years.

Dan Jurman, president of the community development corporation, said Locke was a presence at every meeting.

"Every meeting, his main concern was always 'How are we helping people?'" Jurman said.

The organization will honor Tom Locke by continuing to focus on that concern, he said.

Each year, Locke helped gather about 13,000 toys for Toys for Tots from stores in University Mall and other places in the community, Crist said.

Locke served as chairman of the North 22nd Main Street initiative, a 15-year process to improve the university area. The project is expected to be completed this month, Crist said.

Locke was also a founding chairman of the Hillsborough County Enterprise Zone initiative, which is a program that offers tax incentives to businesses in state-designated areas found near USF, according to Hillsborough County's website.

"He was a gentleman; he was a businessman," Crist said. "A dozen people working together still couldn't do all that Tom Locke was doing as a loving person of our community."

Pastor Donald Grantham of University Baptist Church knew Locke for about 20 years. Grantham said Locke was more than just a manager of a mall; he was also passionate about helping and was always engaged and involved in the community.

"He's going to leave a void that's going to be very difficult to fill," Grantham said.

Grantham said Locke was a gifted man with a good heart and will be missed by everyone.

Locke's daughter, Jeanette Locke, 37, described her father as the best man she ever knew.

"He didn't have a cold bone in his body," she said.

Tom Locke is survived by wife Julia, 65; his daughter and son; mother Regina, 90; sister Florence; and brothers Michael and Richard.

Funeral services will be held at 5 p.m. Friday in the University Area Community Development Center, 14013 N. 22nd St. in Tampa.

acarroz@tampatrib.com

Twitter: @andrea_carroz

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