Stacy Frank, a Tampa-based attorney and small business owner and the daughter of Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts Pat Frank, died on Saturday, June 25, at the age of 61 from lung cancer.
Frank was very involved in Hillsborough County politics, including assisting in her mother’s campaigns for Clerk of the Courts.
“Stacy was a fighter, a believer and an inspiration to many. I always looked up to her as a strong woman and a successful businesswoman,” wrote Ashley Walker, the Fort Lauderdale political strategist who ran President Barack Obama’s re-election effort in Florida, on her Facebook page.
“She helped guide me through many difficult decisions, and she was one of my first calls when making big professional decisions,” Walker added. “But most importantly, she had a huge heart and was always up for a good time. She’ll truly be missed.”
Frank’s friends say she was a big political junkie, and she told this reporter back in 2010 that she recalled watching committee meetings and votes while her mother was serving in the Florida Senate back in the 1970s. She graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington D.C. and told me at that time that, “I had these great visions of going abroad.” But she lost her enthusiasm for going overseas after the Iranian hostage crisis unfolded, and ultimately attended Florida State University to get her law degree.
Frank was an attorney and later in her career became president and CEO of Collier Enterprises II, which negotiated leases and constructed cell towers. When the Hillsborough County school district hired Collier Enterprises II to build such towers on school campuses, it became a contentious issue with some South Tampa parents, who said the towers were not safe.
That issue emerged as Frank began her campaign for the one and only political office she ever attempted to win, the House District 57 seat being vacated by Faye Culp in 2010. The matchup between Frank and Republican Dana Young was fiercely fought, with both parties putting in considerable resources to take what was considered a swing seat.
Young ultimately won the seat in November of 2010, 56 percent to 44 percent, in a huge year for Republicans in Florida.
“She was an amazing woman,” says Tampa Democratic strategist Ana Cruz. “She was an understated intellectual who was fiercely loyal with an incredible sense of humor and a unique giggle that was contagious.“
“Stacy Frank was an American entrepreneur, a mentor and a role model to young women,” said Alan Clendenin, vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party, current school board candidate and a close friend. “She embodied what every dad wants their daughter to be: strong, self-made, passionate, independent, generous and kind. In the office, across a negotiating table, or on a campaign she was a fiery competitor.
“But to many of us, she was a true friend. Generous and kind, she was an intense flame that drew people towards her. Once you were in her life you were never left out. “