Joseph Bondi, the father of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and a former Temple Terrace mayor who remained an advocate for the city's small town charm long after he left politics, died Tuesday after a battle with leukemia. He was 76.
"He was extremely concerned for others," Pam Bondi said Wednesday. "His entire life was completely dedicated to his family."
Joseph Bondi's wife of 52 years, Patsy, and their three children, Pam, Beth Bondi McIntyre and Brad Bondi, were at his bedside when he passed away, the attorney general said.
"Thanks for all of your prayers and support," Pam Bondi wrote on her Facebook page when she made the announcement Wednesday morning. "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."
In November, Pam Bondi spoke proudly about her father's contributions to Temple Terrace when she returned to her hometown to officiate the swearing-in of the city's newly elected officials. Patsy and Beth Bondi were in attendance.
At the time, the former mayor was unable to attend the city council meeting. At the swearing-in, Pam Bondi held a photograph of her father hugging her and her sister at his swearing-in as mayor in 1974.
Joseph Bondi served two two-year terms as mayor from 1974 to 1978 following a stint on the Temple Terrace City Council from 1970 to 1974. He also served as the first chairman of the Hillsborough County Council of Governments.
"He never lost interest for the city," former Temple Terrace Mayor Joe Affronti said Wednesday. "I received several emails from Joe. He was very involved, and he had a watchful eye over the city."
Temple Terrace Mayor Frank Chillura said Joseph Bondi helped him establish a business, which was pivotal to his success as a businessman and politician.
"When I was a young man I used to mow his lawn," Chillura said. "I had a lawn business. (Joseph Bondi) called to ask me for an estimate. I maintained his lawn for many years."
Chillura saw Joseph Bondi as a trailblazer in a city that has grown to more than 23,000 residents.
"He was passion about the city's business and its future," Chillura said.
Bondi, a Navy veteran, grew up in Tampa and attended Hillsborough High School. He earned a bachelor's, masters and doctorate degree from the University of Florida.
A longtime educator, Joseph Bondi also served as a professor at the University of South Florida's College of Education and was a curriculum consultant for many Florida school districts. He authored more than 25 textbooks.
He had homes in Temple Terrace and Longboat Key.
Bondi also is survived by a sister, Frances Bondi Glenn (husband William), and six grandchildren.
A celebration of Bondi's life will be held at 2 p.m. Jan. 20 at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 304 Druid Hills Road in Temple Terrace.