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Senate celebrates ‘bigger than life’ late Larcenia Bullard

by Dara Kam | March 27th, 2013

The Florida Senate remembered their colleague Larcenia Bullard, a long-time lawmaker who died March 16, with what Democratic Leader Chris Smith called a celebration instead of a memorial service in homage to a woman whose sense of humor and distinctive style drew praise from members of both parties.

The hour-and-a-half long event in the Senate chamber concluded with video excerpts from her farewell speech delivered last year after Bullard left office due to term limits.

“I loved everybody and nobody can take that away from me,” Bullard said in the video.

Former Senate Democratic leaders and former Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith, who also served in the Senate, shared stories of Bullard, known for delivering lengthy speeches, asking frequent questions and “the Larcenia hug.”

“Larcenia Bullard was different. She was bigger than life. Her smile was wider her mind was freer… and I think she will live longer because she was real. She was genuine,” said Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.

Smith recalled the pressure on Bullard during a contentious battle over Terri Schiavo that drew national attention. Bullard, a swing vote, first voted against the GOP-dominated legislature’s efforts to try to prevent the death of the brain-damaged Clearwater woman. In a tie vote, the bill did not pass. But Bullard later reconsidered her vote and made a motion to have the bill heard again, creating panic for Democrats and a bloc of Republicans who opposed intervening in Schiavo’s case.

Smith said Bullard asked him to pray with her in her office.

“She just wanted to do the right thing. She was personally connected to both sides,” Smith said, saying they prayed for a “long time.”

“At the conclusion she said she was comfortable. I believe Sen. Bullard made history in stopping what I thought would have been a horrible intrusion” into Schiavo’s life, Smith said.

He ended by quoting what Bullard said on the floor during debate on the issue:

“Let her die in peace. I know that is exactly what happened for my friend Sen. Bullard.”

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