‘The biggest heart in the Senate’ Larcenia Bullard dies at age 65by Dara Kam | March 16th, 2013
Larcenia Bullard, a warm-hearted and outspoken veteran lawmaker who spawned a family legislative dynasty, has died. The Miami Democrat was 65.
whowho served nearly two decades in the Florida Legislature
Bullard served nearly two decades in the Florida Legislature and left office last year due to term limits. The one-time schoolteacher represented a Senate district that spanned six counties from the Keys north to Palm Beach County. Her son Dwight replaced her last year.
Bullard was known for giving long, impassioned floor speeches and a sunny spirit. She, her husband Ed, and her son Dwight all served in the Florida House.
Bullard was beloved by both Republican and Democrat leaders and was considered a Senate institution. She appeared this week in a Senate video leading the chamber in the “Harlem Shake” for the annual Capitol press skits.
In 2004, Bullard shocked and moved members when she spoke of being sexually abused by her father at a young age during Senate floor debate.
Bullard suffered two heart attacks before the 2010 legislative session. She was responsible for the Key lime pie becoming the official state pie, and lobbied for the cause by serving pie to the members on the Senate floor.
Gov. Rick Scott issued a statement saying Bullard served the state with “honor and integrity,” and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, characterized the veteran lawmaker as having “the biggest heart in the Senate.” Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, called her a “woman many loved for her outspoken ways and selfless devotion to the people she represented.”
Today, Florida lost a strong leader. Ann and I join all Floridians as we mourn the passing of Senator Larcenia Bullard. She represented the families of South Florida with passion and integrity. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those close to her and the rest of Florida as we honor a woman who put her constituents first. We remain grateful to Senator Bullard for her service to this great state and pray that her family can find peace during this difficult time.
Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, issued the following statement:
“I am incredibly saddened with the news of Senator Bullard’s passing. She was not only a mentor to me, but a woman many loved for her outspoken ways and selfless devotion to the people she represented.
Even when ill, Senator Bullard remained determined to serve those who elected her – those whose faith she carried and protected.
On the Senate Floor, she spoke of things that gave inspiration to many; she never shied away from controversial issues. And she never shied away from standing up for issues she believed were right.
After being term-limited, she returned to the Senate just one week ago. Ever the free spirit, she danced for the Senate’s very own version of the ‘Harlem Shake’ in a way only Larcenia could!
As our hearts and prayers go out to her son, Senator Dwight Bullard, and her husband, former Representative Ed Bullard – ever at her side – this we know…she is still dancing in heaven.”
Gaetz praised Bullard in a memo to the chamber:
“Today our dear friend and former colleague, Senator Larcenia Bullard,
died in Miami. Although she had faced many serious challenges to her
health in recent months, Senator Bullard was on the floor with us –
cheerful and proud — as her son, Dwight, began his first Senate
session just two weeks ago.
Larcenia Bullard had the biggest heart in the Senate. A proud
Democrat, she was never an uncompromising partisan. A political
pioneer among African-Americans, her passion for fairness and justice
extended to all people. Every hard fight in committee or tough debate
on the Senate floor always ended with her warmly embracing those with
whom she disagreed and assuring them of her love. Every senator with
whom she served can share stories of her compassion and good humor.
The Bullards are an institution in South Florida. Loving their
community and its people, they are fiercely loved and supported in
return. The Senate shares the grief of the Bullard family and extends
our prayers to Representative Ed Bullard, Senator Dwight Bullard, and
all of those who mourn Larcenia. Every senator and staff member who
served alongside Senator Bullard knows that something very good and
kind is lost from our lives today.”
And Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, had this to say about Bullard:
“It is with great sadness that the Senate family learned today of the passing of former Senator Larcenia Bullard. The Senate was truly blessed in abundance by Senator Bullard. She was the light of any room she walked into and her laughter and stories could capture the moment like no other. She was a friend to all and a passionate advocate for her community. She leaves behind a strong legacy of caring, compassion, and dedication. To honor her memory, let us spread her joy and kindness wherever we may go, for she would delight in that. Our thoughts and prayers are with her devoted husband, her beloved children, and her precious grandchildren.”