Phyllis Busansky honored by hundreds at memorial service

06/26/09 Seán Kinane
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A memorial service was held today for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Phyllis Busansky. She passed away in St. Augustine earlier this week while attending a statewide convention of elections supervisors.

About nine-hundred fifty people packed into South Tampa’s Congregation Schaarai Zedek Friday morning while a thunderstorm raged outside. Cantor Riselle Bain sang a Hebrew prayer asking for peace for the deceased. Busansky’s daughter, Rebecca, addressed the congregation.

Rabbi Joel Simon read Psalm 23 in Hebrew. In English, it begins, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Tributes to Busansky were given by Rabbi Richard Birnholz, Jeannie McGuire – one of Busansky’s best friends, Tampa Tribune columnist Steve Otto, and two of Busansky’s three children. One of her sons, Alex, said his mother hated goodbyes.

Dozens of local political leaders attended the memorial for Busansky. Fellow Democrat Jim Davis, who represented Tampa in Congress until 2006 when he ran unsuccessfully for governor, called the service “a poetic expression of Phyllis’ life.”

Former Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson, who Busansky defeated last November, attended the service.

Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco said that Busansky was happy to be doing a job she enjoyed.

Busansky’s major legacy is pushing for a county-wide indigent health care program when she served as a Hillsborough County Commissioner. Her Democratic colleague on the Commission - current Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio - says Busansky took her exuberance and passion with her into public service.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, a Republican, called it both a solemn and uplifting service.

Republican Commissioner Rose Ferlita called Busansky “the epitome of what a public servant is.”

Because of delays in reporting election results, last November neither Busansky nor Democratic County Commissioner Kevin Beckner learned that they had defeated the incumbents in their respective races until two days after the election.

Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena said the service was “beautiful, because everyone celebrated Phyllis’ warmth and talent.”

Gordon Davis, who is in the restaurant business, attended the service for Busansky.

Several people mentioned that they hope Governor Charlie Crist will appoint someone like Busansky as Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, rather than make a partisan appointment. Herold Lord has been a community liaison with the Supervisor of Elections office for two years, under both Buddy Johnson and Busansky.

On Thursday, the Hillsborough County Commission authorized the renaming of the county’s center on West Spruce Street in Tampa as the Phyllis H. Busansky Westshore Senior Center to honor her public service.

WMNF coverage of Busansky’s passing

Congregation Schaarai Zedek

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections

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