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Former Hillsborough Sheriff and Florida lawmaker Malcolm Beard dead at 99

Former Hillsborough County Sheriff and retired state lawmaker Malcolm Beard died Wednesday. He was 99.

The Sheriff’s office renamed its Operations Center after Beard in 2013.

Beard joined the Tampa Police Department in the 1940s and was later elected constable for Hillsborough County in 1957. He served in that position until 1964 when he was elected Sheriff in what was the last competitive race for the elected position since.

Beard served as Sheriff until 1978 when he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. He served one term in office and then ran successfully for state Senate in 1979 where he served until 1996.

Beard began his political career as a Democrat, but later switched parties, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Party platforms switched during Beard’s career as a politician and it was common at the time for members of one party to switch to the other.

The longtime elected official was born 1919 in Moultrie, Georgia, according to a news release from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office Thursday. Beard moved to Florida with his family in 1924 and later joined the U.S. Navy where he served during World War II.

Beard also attended the University of Tampa.

In a Twitter announcement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office including a video, Beard’s casket can be seen draped in an American flag and being carried by several current Sheriff’s deputies from a medical facility to a waiting transport vehicle where he was saluted by a full motorcade.

Beard was unmarried and did not have children.

The Sheriff’s office did not immediately have information on services for their late former leader. The agency will release those details as they become available.

Beard was just six weeks shy of his 100th birthday. The exact cause of his death was not immediately released, though given his age it’s likely related to natural causes.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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