John Passidomo, husband to Kathleen Passidomo, dies after Utah hiking accident

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The Naples Republican was 72.

John Passidomo, a former Naples City Council member and husband to Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, has died. He was 72.

The Naples Republican died following a “massive trauma” while hiking with his wife in Utah.

Senate President Pro Tempore Dennis Baxley confirmed the news in a memo to members of the Florida Senate.

“Mr. Passidomo was transported from the trail by ambulance to a local hospital, and shortly thereafter by air to a regional trauma center,” Baxley wrote.

“After a thorough evaluation by the very best medical teams over the next 24 hours, the President was advised that Mr. Passidomo would not survive these severe injuries. Their family quickly traveled to Utah and with the President and their three daughters by his side, the First Gentleman passed away peacefully at 3:21 p.m. EDT.”

John Passidomo was a shareholder at Cheffy Passidomo, a Naples law firm where he practiced real estate law. He served in the past as President of the Collier County Bar Association and chaired that organization’s Real Estate Attorneys’ Section.

He also once held elected office himself, serving as a Council member and Vice Mayor of Naples from 1990 to 1992. He also held leadership positions in Southwest Florida, chairing the Community Foundation of Collier County from 1998 to 2001 and the Economic Development Council of Collier County from 1995 to 1997.

In Tallahassee, he’s most often been seen at the side of one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers. Baxley noted that John and Kathleen Passidomo had been together well before either became political figures.

“As you know, the President and First Gentleman were law school sweethearts, looking forward to celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary in September,” Baxley wrote.

“The trip to visit several national parks in Utah was one of many great adventures they shared during five decades together. Their last few days together were marked by many special moments, beautiful scenery, and wonderful reflections on their lifetime together and plans to live out their golden years watching their grandchildren grow up. The President has lost the love of her life, and is absolutely devastated by this sudden and unexpected accident.”

John Passidomo was an organ donor, and before his death, Kathleen Passidomo authorized medical officials to find matches for several organs.

“The President and her family are taking comfort in the fact their great loss has resulted in a life-saving gift for other families,” Baxley’s memo reported.

Through Baxley, Passidomo voiced gratitude for the care provided by the National Park Service, first responders at the scene, medical personnel at Garfield Memorial Hospital and trauma center staff at St. George Regional Hospital for care provided in the last 48 hours.

The memo notes that hospital staff in Utah also communicated with specialists at UF Health Shands, including Dr. Michael Okun, Director of the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases.

The memo notes that following Passidomo’s fall, fellow hikers first reached him, helping provide action that sustained his life at least long enough for him to say goodbye to family and for organ donation to be possible.

“Funeral plans will be made in the coming weeks,” Baxley wrote. “We will certainly share those details when they are finalized. In the meantime, please join me in praying that the grace and peace of God, our Father, our hope and comfort in times of distress, will be with the President and their entire family during this unimaginable time of sorrow, and in the difficult weeks and months ahead.”

Political leaders in the state expressed sadness at the news of John Passidomo’s death.

“I’m shocked. John Passidomo was a good man,” said U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican. “For Sen. Passidomo, I’m so sorry for her loss. They were a real pillar of the Southwest Florida community and of the Naples community. John is going to be missed. Erika and I are praying for her comfort and the comfort of her daughters and her whole family.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis also expressed sympathies online.

Casey DeSantis and I are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of John Passidomo,” DeSantis wrote. “Our thoughts are with Kathleen and her family as they grieve this loss. He was a good man and we are praying for the Passidomo family.”

Speaker Paul Renner, Kathleen Passidomo’s counterpart in the House, said he had met John a number of times.

“Adriana and I are heartbroken at the passing of John Passidomo. We were privileged to spend time with the President and Mr. Passidomo on numerous occasions, both official and social,” Renner said in a statement. “John was a true prince of a man. Always gracious, exceptionally kind, and highly respected by everyone who knew him. He was always visibly proud of his wife’s accomplishments leading the Florida Senate. He was a wonderful father of his three daughters and grandfather to his two grandchildren. So full of life and always smiling whenever we were around him, it is hard to even accept that he is no longer with us. Adriana and I are praying for our friend, Kathleen, as she grieves the loss of a great husband, a loving dad and grandfather, and her champion in all things. We are comforted to know Kathleen and the Passidomo family are surrounded by their larger family and friends at this very tragic time and in the coming days.

Support came in online from state lawmakers across Florida.

Brianna and I are praying for Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and her entire family,” posted U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Stuart Republican. “We hope John’s memory will be a comfort to them in this difficult time.”

Saddened to hear this tragic news. I just had the pleasure of meeting John recently,” posted U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, a St. Augustine Beach Republican. “Keeping President Passidomo and her family in my prayers during this difficult time.”

Married nearly 45 years, the love shared by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and our First Gentleman of the Florida Senate, John Passidomo, was inspiring to all who knew them,” posted Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book. “The First Gentleman’s untimely passing is devastating to our entire Florida Senate family. We are praying for the entire Passidomo family and sending them all of our love.”

The world is a better place because John Passidomo was in it! Sandy and I are praying for Kathleen Passidomo and the girls in their tragic loss!” posted state Sen. Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican. “Heaven now has a new angel with a beautiful smile!”

My heartbreaks for Senate President Kathleen Passidomo,” posted state Rep. Dianne Hart, a Tampa Democrat. “My prayers and condolences are with her during this most difficult hour. May First Gentleman Passidomo rest in peace.”

Join me in lifting up the Passidomo family in prayer as they grieve,” postd state Rep. Berny Jacques, a Pinellas Republican.

“Praying for peace and comfort for President Passidomo and her family,” posted state Rep. Kiyan Michael, a Jacksonville Republican.

Praying for the Passidomo family during this heartbreaking time,” posted state Rep. Kaylee Tuck, a Sebring Republican.”

We are saddened to hear about the passing of the First Gentleman of the Florida Senate,” posted state Rep. Brad Yeager, a New Port Richey Republican. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Passidomo family.”

Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with President Passidomo and her family,” posted former Senate President Ken Pruitt. “May the promise of everlasting life sustain them during this difficult time.”

This is heartbreaking news. My prayers are with Senate President Passidomo and her family after the sudden and tragic passing of her husband,” posted Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan.

I am deeply saddened by the tragic, sudden passing of John Passidomo, a remarkable man and First Gentleman and beloved husband, father & grandfather,” posted Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “My heart goes out to President Passidomo and her family during this unimaginable time. May his legacy of love and service live on.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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  • Jan Killilea

    April 3, 2024 at 7:27 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with President, Kathleen Passidomo and her family. May he rest in Eternal Peace.

  • Bill Earls

    April 3, 2024 at 8:32 pm

    John was a gentleman of gentleman. A wonderful Father for his Family and a one of a kind friend for all who knew him. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. A truly GREAT man.

  • Charles Shumway

    April 3, 2024 at 10:02 pm

    Great thoughts and love for the family and Kathleen especially.

  • West Lakes Partnership, Inc.

    April 4, 2024 at 5:11 am

    Our thoughts and prayers are with President Kathleen Passidomo and her family. May the angels of God greet him at the pearly gates.

  • Carolyn Jean Inman, Andrea Inman and Leslie Inman

    April 5, 2024 at 5:06 pm

    God Bless you and your daughters at this time.


  • Mark

    April 7, 2024 at 2:50 pm

    One less RepubliKKKan voting in Florida. Good Riddance.

  • Rick Whitaker

    April 7, 2024 at 2:57 pm

    mark, ditto

Comments are closed.


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