Remembering Former Sen. Larcenia Bullard

Mar 18, 2013

Former Florida Senator Larcenia Bullard, who served in both chambers of the state Legislature for about 20 years, passed away over the weekend. She’s known as a lawmaker who was well-liked not only by her Democratic colleagues, but across the aisle as well. The following is a look back at one of her last days in the Florida Legislature when she bid farewell to the Florida Senate last year.

“After serving 20 years in the Legislature, 18 elected and two years as a volunteer, it is a bittersweet moment as I stand on this day to offer my farewell,” said former Senator Larcenia Bullard.

Bullard was talking to her fellow colleagues in the Senate, on February 27th, of last year. It was her farewell speech, one that she’d given before in the Florida House of Representatives.

The only difference: This time, because of term limits, she would not be returning to the Capitol in her role as a Florida lawmaker. She called herself a real public servant, with real integrity, and would freely debate anyone, respectfully on any issue. And, today, current Senate President Don Gaetz agrees.

“At the end of any committee discussion, or Floor debate, if she was on the opposite side of you, she would come up at the end of the debate and throw her arms around you and say 'I love you,'” said Gaetz.

Her fellow Democrat and Sorority Sister from Delta Sigma Theta, Senator Arthenia Joyner also had similar words to describe Bullard last year, calling her a unique individual.

“You bring to this Body something that nobody else in here could possibly bring. You know you survived all the trials and tribulations, and every day with a smile. You can never get angry with Senator Larcenia Bullard because she is always smiling. And, some days, I say that soror of mine, I say she makes me smile. And, days when I wanted to frown, she made me smile," said Joyner.

And, Larcenia Bullard had a lot of love for her colleagues as well. Throughout her life in the Legislature, Bullard had been facing some health problems that left her sidelined for awhile.

But, she became tearful as she recalled how she was able to get back up again through the support of her fellow lawmakers, from calls by the Senate Democratic leader, at the time, Nan Rich to hand written notes from then Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

“Throughout that time, it was bipartisan. It didn’t matter that I was a Democrat. My living room was full of flowers because everyone knew that I loved flowers," she said as tears filled her eyes.

"I’d go out to water my flowers and it strengthened me. Thank you whoever you were. I can’t remember all because I don’t have the cards here, but you helped lift me up out of that bed and you helped me return.”

Family was also a very important part in her life.  She talked a lot about her husband, Ed Bullard, and what he’s done for her family, and she had some words of encouragement for her son, Dwight Bullard.

She said she was proud her son decided to follow both her and her husband’s footsteps in serving in both chambers of the Florida Legislature. Bullard, a former Florida House Representative, took over his mother’s Senate seat, after winning the election last November.

“I want to say to you Dwight. You have the ability to do whatever you want! Soar like an eagle. You’re smart. Don’t waste your mind,” said Bullard.

And, the former Senator also knew how to have fun. She took part in a semi-annual tradition of Capitol Press Skits almost every year while she was in the Legislature, where government officials, lawmakers, and reporters all come together to spoof each other.

“Members, the Press Skits are another way for us to give to a very good cause. Proceeds from the Press Skits benefit the Barbara Frye Journalism Scholarship. So, it’s very good cause. I would hope all of you would support the Press Skits when I’m gone,” said Bullard.

This year, she took a special trip to Tallahassee to not only see her son on the first day of session, but she also took part in a craze that’s been sweeping the nation: the Senate’s own version of the Harlem Shake.

Overall, words to describe Bullard have included wife, mother, mentor, and friend.  And, perhaps, Former Senate President Mike Haridopolos’ closing words last year best reflect what the Legislature at least thinks of former Senator Larcenia Bullard….

“We thank you very much for your compassion. You’ve got a huge heart. And, when people talk about people of faith, you are such as person. We’ll miss you. We love you and God Bless you,” said Haridopolos.

Former senator, Larcenia Bullard, passed away over the weekend at the age of 65. According to her son, Senator Dwight Bullard, she was facing many serious health challenges in recent months.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.