William F. Poe - 53rd Mayor Of Tampa

William Poe

Born: July 22, 1931

Died: May 1, 2014

Term: October 3, 1974 - October 3, 1979

Born in the Seminole Heights section of Tampa, Florida, William Poe attended Broward and Seminole Elementary Schools, Memorial Junior High and Hillsborough High School. He was president of the student body and president of the key club and treasurer of the senior class. After high school, Poe attended Duke University and, later, the University of Florida where he received a B.A. in Business Administration. He also served in the Air Force. In 1956, Poe returned to Tampa where he established the W.F. Poe Insurance Company. Poe became involved in civic activities and, later, local politics.

In October 1974, William Poe successfully campaigned for mayor against Bob Martinez. Poe initiated a major revitalization of downtown Tampa which included the negotiation of an agreement to construct a state office building on Franklin Street. As part of his revitalization campaign, Poe secured the City Council's approval to invest $20 million in public works programs that included street and drainage improvements, a city hall annex, and a riverside cultural center. He also persuaded City Council to implement a $35 million dollar program to expand the Tampa's water system to avoid the shortages that had previously occurred. Poe  cracked down on the growing number of massage parlors, prostitution and street people. To strengthen the presence of police he outfitted the department with a new fleet of patrol cars. Poe also established an information and complaint service for the public to notify the city on everything from street crime to water problems. 

After his term as mayor, Poe returned to the insurance business. He and Elizabeth (Betty) Ann Blackburn Poe were married for nearly 60 years and had five children. William F. Poe, Sr. served as Chairman of the Florida-based property and casualty insurance company of Poe & Associates, which he founded in 1996. 

Sources for this Biographical Sketch:

Covington, Dr. James W. and Wavering, Debbie Lee, "The Mayors of Tampa:A Brief Administrative History," Tampa, FL: University of Tampa, 1987.

Mayors' Papers, City of Tampa Archives, Tampa,