The husband of former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who became known nationally for her role in the contested 2000 presidential election, was found dead Tuesday of an apparent suicide at the couple’s mansion, police said.
Harris’ husband, Anders Ebbeson, 68, was found dead at the home when officers were called Tuesday morning, said Sarasota Police spokeswoman Genevieve Judge.
The Swedish businessman had suffered from health issues in recent years, said Pastor William Hild of Sarasota First Baptist Church. Hild declined to elaborate on those health problems or how Ebbeson killed himself.
Harris was in office overseeing the 2000 election in Florida and proved instrumental in delivering the state’s contested electoral votes, and the White House, to President George W. Bush. Harris, a Republican, also served in Congress from 2003-2007.
Ebbeson owned several European business interests, including a business that equipped yachts with appliances and lighting. Harris credited her husband with helping her through tough political moments.
“He was much beloved by his family,” Hild said. “He was very warm and a generous person.”
Ebbeson and Harris met in 1996 in Sarasota and married the same year. They were both divorced. According to a 2006 Tampa Bay Times article, they were set up on a blind date to an opera.
“He was a gentleman of the highest order,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “He was obviously incredibly in love with Katherine. He would beam at her whenever she was in his presence.”
Ebbeson was well-read and well-traveled, which made him a fascinating person to talk with, Putnam said.
Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist who worked on Harris’ 2006 Senate campaign, described Ebbeson as a kind, loving man who supported Harris, but wasn’t interested in getting involved in politics.
“Politics wasn’t his thing,” Rollins said. “She was very high-powered, and he was totally supportive. He was not someone who wanted to be involved in it day-to-day. He was one of the lovelier political spouses that I worked with.”
The couple lives in a 23,000-square-foot home on Sarasota Bay, just south of downtown Sarasota.
Ebbeson was always smiling and would engage people in pleasant conversation, said Adam Goodman, a Republican media strategist who worked closely with Harris.
“Whenever he walked into the room, he would bring calm and class into a world that’s normally fairly turbulent,” Goodman said. “Everyone loved him. He was class and character personified.”