Best wishes go out to Leland Hawes.
As Steve Otto wrote yesterday in the Tribune, Leland is being bestowed an honorary doctorate on Dec. 19 for his contributions to Tampa history. In a town chock full of history, Leland is like a walking Smithsonian with a nose for news and the talent for telling a story well.
Leland is a wonderful man, a southern gentleman in all respects. I was luck to work with him for a couple years at the Tribune before he retired earlier this year. On the days I knew he was coming in, I'd try to put on a pot of decaf for him in the kitchen so he wouldn't have to bother. He's the kind of guy you want to do that for.
As the USF Libraries page explains about his background:
Leland Hawes was born in 1929 at what was then Tampa Municipal Hospital (today's Tampa General Hospital). His family lived in Thonotosassa where his father was in the citrus business. Mr. Hawes attended public schools in Tampa and graduated from Plant High in 1947.
Mr. Hawes started a weekly newspaper, "The Flint Lake Diver," for Thonotosassa in 1940 when he was 11, (Thonotosassa means "Lake of Flint), and he edited the yearbook at Plant High, which led him to the University of Florida where he majored in journalism. He was a campus correspondent for The Tampa Daily Times, Tampa's afternoon newspaper. When he graduated from UF in 1950, he went to work at the Times as a police/hospital reporter. In August, 1952, he went to work at The Tampa Morning Tribune (as The Tampa Tribune was known then) where he has covered most of the news beats, written editorials, been features editor, Sunday editor and night editor.
They named the newsroom library after Leland at the Tribune when he left in January. We had a lovely lunch for him and editor Janet Weaver gave him a plaque. Still, that doesn't seem enough to honor this modest man. Maybe the doctorate will help fill the gap.
To see a multimedia report about Leland, click here.