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Politics

Bipartisan bill set to rename Bay Pines for Young

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Published:   |   Updated: October 22, 2013 at 10:53 PM

Beverly Young said her late husband would be honored by having the Bay Pines VA Medical Center named after him and by the bipartisan effort to make that happen.

“He deserves it,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “He told me that it took him three presidents to be built the way it needed to be built.”

Florida Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican, introduced legislation rename the Pinellas County veterans hospital in honor of Young, the longtime Republican congressman who died Friday at age 82.

The facility, at 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., would be known as the C.W. Bill Young Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The legislation will be a companion to a House bill introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Ohio, that could be voted on as early as Wednesday, according to a statement from Nelson’s office.

And the proposal was gaining momentum.

Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis, R-Fla., spoke on the House floor to support the measure.

“He has left behind a rich legacy in support of our heroes and renaming this important facility in his honor will provide a lasting monument to remember our dear friend and colleague,” Bilirakis said.

As did Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa.

“More importantly, he was a fixture when there was no ceremony – when he would visit wounded soldiers in the hospitals or at their homes – when there was no fanfare and it was just his desire to ensure that service members and their families received the care that they deserved and earned,” she said.

“Bill would appreciate” the senators working together,” Beverly Young said of her husband. “The Democrats loved Bill in Washington.”

So much so that Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, will be one of the nonfamily speakers at Young’s funeral, said Beverly Young, along with House Speaker John Boehner, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England.

“It’s a wonderful and fitting tribute to my father,” said Young’s son, Billy. “He loved veterans and that hospital, and I thank his colleagues in Congress for doing this for him.

Services will include a public visitation with the family present from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Congressman C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center, 2801 Grand Ave. N., Pinellas Park.

A funeral service will be open to the public at 1 p.m. Thursday at the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. A private burial will follow.

Young, who served 43 years in the House of Representatives, died midway through his 22nd term.

He was surrounded by family members when he died at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Maryland. He had been hospitalized for the most recent of numerous surgeries over the years to correct chronic back problems, which stemmed from injuries in the crash of a small plane in 1970.

Shaltman@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7629

@haltman

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