Until his untimely death in 2012 at age 59, Solomon served the department as a community relations liaison and mentor to children.
The former standout at the University of Tampa, and with the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins devoted the last 21 years of his life, both on and off the field, aiming to positively influence the lives of youngsters in the predominately poverty stricken, crime-ridden Nuccio Park neighborhood.
In Solomon’s honor, his wife Delilah “Dee” Solomon and Gee recently came together to dedicate the renovation and re-opening of the long closed Nuccio Community Center, which has also been renamed the Freddie Solomon Community Center.
“This is his legacy – not a memorial – but a working center, and we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Gee said.
In early September, Dee Solomon accepted Gee’s offer to take over the role of her husband, whose goal was to help provide the area’s children with a promising future.
“Our hearts are definitely in the right place, but we need your hearts to also be in the right place,” said Dee Solomon as she looked out among the many dedication attendees that included several young mothers and children.
The occasion also provided a perfect platform for Brad Baumgardner, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, to also announce the soon-to-open Freddie Solomon Boys & Girls Club at the Nuccio Park site at 4805 E. Sligh Ave.
“My staff has worked hard to get to this point and we probably already have a waiting list of kids wanting to get in,” he said.
The center is set to open Nov. 11. For more information on applications for the Freddie Solomon Boys and Girls Club, click here.
C.J. Simmons, its new director who most recently was employed as program director at the Boys & Girls facility in Plant City, said he got to know Freddie Solomon when he frequented Nuccio Park as a football coach.
“I am very humbled,” Simmons said. “He was very knowledgeable and was a person who was passionate about helping the children in this community.”
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.