Politicos from across the state are paying tribute after the unexpected passing of activist Stephen Gately.
Originally born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Gately made his mark on the Florida political scene. He spent several years as a field representative for U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, who is set to retire this year after serving Florida’s 15th Congressional District.
Gately also worked as a district assistant to state Rep. Mike La Rosa of House District 42. In 2011, Gately was listed as a Pinellas County co-chair for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign in Florida.
Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly offered up a heartfelt message after news of Gately’s passing was confirmed. “Florida politics has lost an impassioned voice and public servant,” said Jolly in a statement.
“Stephen Gately fought hard for his convictions, believed in service, & endeared himself to many, including this former Congressman. We often agreed, often sparred, but were always friends. God bless you brother.”
Jolly was just one of several throughout the state to share their memory of Gately and his work. He was remembered as “honorable,” a “true friend” and a “patriot.”
Others reached out to Florida Politics directly to offer their remembrances of Gately’s life and impact.
“Stephen was one of the first people who believed in me as a high school student looking to get involved with campaigns and local politics,” Nicholas Bique, who now works for the Republican Party of Florida and was mentored by Gately.
“He treated everyone with warmth and kindness. Every time I talked to him, he made me feel important, even walking through the halls of Congress and he made you feel your worth. You could sense his genuine care and interest. He’s been a role model of mine for a long time.”
Edward Briggs of RSA Consulting Group added a statement on behalf of the organization. “Stephen Gately was not only a civic leader and patriot, but a true friend to everyone at RSA. Words cannot express how saddened we are to see him go. Stephen always brightened the room with his sincere candor, wisdom, and true passion for politics. His loss has left a huge hole in all our hearts.”
Kyle Glenn, who works as chief of staff for Rep. Ross, called Gately a “tremendous friend and all-around great guy.”
“Stephen Gately lived and breathed politics,” added state Rep. Chris Latvala.
“He was like no one I have ever known in that regard. He never got sick or cynical of it and was steadfast in his beliefs and convictions. He really was everywhere at once. Other than fighting for his principles and party, he never had any personal ambitions that I knew of. He leaves behind many friends on both sides of the aisle and I am going to miss him. Rest easy my friend.”
“I got to know Stephen over the years as someone who was not only passionate about politics, but also compassionate for constituents of all political parties,” said WTSP’s Noah Pransky.
“He was principled, but also had the ability to see beyond party. We could use more Stephen Gately’s in politics.”
A memorial service will be held at the Blount & Curry Funeral Home Carrollwood Chapel in Tampa on August 3 at 5:30 p.m. Gately was 37 years old.