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Obituaries for the week of Feb. 11, 2021

Published on: February 11, 2021

John (Joe) Bitner Jr.

Joe passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, in his home, to the loving arms of our Lord Jesus Christ, on January 30, 2021, the day before his 83rd birthday.

He was born January 31, 1938, in Fairmont, W. Va., to John and Mabel Bitner. Joe was blessed with two devoted parents and five adoring sisters.

Joe attended Fairmont College in West Virginia where he loved any kind of athletic activity. He joined the swim and dive team where he broke the state record for the 100-yard backstroke. He served in the military in the 101st Airborne Division, and after only two years, he was promoted to sergeant. Joe has always excelled in everything he did. When he left the military, he went on to work for McDonnell Douglas for 30 years as the director of Recreation. What a fitting job for a man who loved sports and all recreational activities so much so that he also traveled the country in a slow pitch softball league and spent his free time as a high school basketball official for which he was awarded as a permanent member of the Illinois basketball hall of fame.

In 1993 Joe moved to Sun City Center where he married his best friend and the love of his life, Dolores. The two were inseparable and always kept busy. The two things that Joe loved the most, after his family and friends, were golf and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If Joe wasn’t playing golf, ballroom dancing or bowling, you could find him relaxing and hosting parties in his Bucs room. After all, who else, other than Joe, would add on to their home to build a dedicated Bucs entertainment space.

Joe had a heart of gold and would help anyone with anything. He lived his life to the fullest and with exuberance. We were greatly blessed to have had him in our lives. He was preceded in death by his mother, father, four sisters and five brothers-in-law. He is survived by his loving wife, Dolores; his daughters, Cathy Manger (Russ) of Tennessee, Connie Gray of Tennessee; his sons by marriage: Don Dougherty (Marla) of Georgia, Darren Dougherty (Tina) of Florida, David Dougherty (Stephanie) of Missouri; his sister, Carrie Wisdom of Illinois; his 12 grandchildren: Lynsey Hazelip, Brooke Farrar, Travis Kimbro, Christen Korte, Madison Dougherty, Caroline Dougherty, Reagan Dougherty, Damon Dougherty, Meghan Dougherty, Nicholas Dougherty, Jackson Dougherty and Sophia Dougherty; and six great grandchildren: Tyler, Cathryn, Carson, Daniel, Eli and Lathan.

We would like to extend a very special thanks to the angels who helped care for Joe during his long illness. Maria and Amy, two people that felt more like family than caregivers. They showed more love than one could ever imagine. Our closest friends Fred, Tara, Lucia and Mickey who laughed with us, cried with us, fed us and stayed the night so we could sleep. Our dear friend, Donna, whose support was never-ending. Last but not least, Dolores’ dear sweet sister, Barbara, who made it possible for Joe to remain in his home. God bless you all.

A Funeral Mass will be held at Prince of Peace Catholic Church on Feb. 26, at 10:30 a.m. Those wishing to honor his memory may make a donation in his name to LifePath Hospice of Sun City Center, 3723 Upper Creek Drive, Ruskin, FL 33573.

 

Michael Campbell

Our beloved Michael “Mikey” Campbell, 53, of Gibsonton, passed away with strength and courage at his home with wife, best friend and soulmate Kimberly by his side on Jan. 26, 2021.

Mike loved his family, pets, fishing, his motorcycle, the beach and Oh his tools and toys.

Mike was a gifted craftsman who could build or make anything, and true to his heart of gold, he shared his abilities with others. It came naturally to him to please others and always had a smile on his face; he loved life.

Mike is joining his sister Sharon, his mother “Betty” and his father Richard in Heaven. He is survived by a loving family: wife Kimberly; children, Kyle and Madison; brothers, Billy(Lori) and Richard; as well his mother- in-law “Izzy” and sister-in-law Shannon(Gary); and many nieces and nephews: Debbie, Branden, Jennifer, Michael, Marty, Richard, Shana, Shannon, Sherry, Cheyenne and Cody.

Mike will be honored in a “Celebration of Life” at his home on Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. where all friends and family are asked to join.

 

Phyllis Mueller

Sept. 14, 1931 – Jan. 30, 2021

Phyllis Mueller passed away peacefully after a long life well lived. She was predeceased by her loving husband, Eugene Mueller; parents, Isabelle (Campbell) Gale and Russell Gale of Belmont, Mass.; as well as her sisters, Betty (George) Wyman and Barbara McLaughlin. She is survived by her dearly loved brothers, Rick (Sharon) Gale and Russell Gale. Phyllis was the proud mother of six children: Michael (Cynthia) Burke, Anne (Frank) Logan, Mary (Bill) Burke, Kevin (Lynne) Burke, Sharon Burke and Jennifer (Roxanne) Burke. In addition, Phyllis had six step-children from her marriage to Eugene Mueller: Michael (Linda) Mueller, David Mueller, Joe (Karen) Mueller, Cathy (Scott) Baker, Elizabeth (Jay) Capozzi and Christopher Mueller. Phyllis was also blessed with many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

After growing up in Belmont, Mass., and marrying Walter Michael Burke in 1955, Phyllis lived much of her life in Fairport N.Y. with a summer cottage on Silver Lake, N.Y. The Burke family belonged to St. John’s Parish in Pittsford, N.Y., and Phyllis was an instructor for first grade religion classes. After tirelessly raising six children, Phyllis enrolled in college courses in nursing and embarked upon a career with Lu Engineers. Phyllis married her second husband, Gene Mueller, in 1978, and they retired to Sun City Center Florida in 1987. Phyllis and Gene were members of the Prince of Peace Catholic Church and very active in the community. They started a roller blading club, and Phyllis joined Sew and Sew, where she made beautiful clothing and modeled it in local fashion shows. Phyllis was a talented seamstress and made her daughters’ prom dresses and a wedding gown that was worn by two of her daughters.

Phyllis also had a passion to serve others and became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with the Sun City Center Ambulance squad and, later, an ambulance driver. Phyllis and Gene loved to travel and enjoyed skiing in Europe and many cruises with their friends. Phyllis loved to be on the water and enjoyed all types of boating. Phyllis loved life, had a generous spirit and a smile that could light up a room. Her grandchildren will tell you that she made the best chocolate chip cookies! Phyllis was dearly loved and will be sorely missed. We take comfort knowing that her light will shine down from heaven on those she has left behind and that she is free from all illness and cares of this world. We love you, Mom!

A private family memorial service was held in Sun City Center and will later be held in Boston at the family’s convenience. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Sun City Center Emergency Squad, 720 Ray Watson Drive, Sun City Center, FL 33573, https://sccems.com/support-us/.

 

Arthur J. Nardi

Arthur Nardi, born Sept. 12, 1925, died Feb. 3., 2021, at the age of 95. Art Nardi made his home in Sun City Center, Florida, coming from Otis, Massachusetts, and Newington, Connecticut, in 1983, and living in King’s Point until he moved to Pacifica Senior Center in 2019. Art was a highly respected barber and hair stylist who greatly enjoyed his ability to cut and style hair for both men and women.

Art was a World War II veteran of the Navy. In the 1960’s he was very active in the VFW and in the American Legion in Connecticut, where he served as an officer and commander. He was a fantastic dancer who enjoyed many fun moments throughout the years at local dances at King’s Point. Art loved playing golf, especially at the golf courses at King’s Point in the Sun City Center area. Art loved attending and worshipping at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Sun City Center. Father Lee and Art had some great conversations over the years, and this meant a great deal to him! Art was preceded in death by his first wife, Harriett, and his second wife, Viola.

He is survived by his children: Art (Cecelia), Janet, Nancy (Jimmy); and step-children: Joanne (Reggie), Brian (Erin) and Charlene. He also has numerous grand-children (8), great grand-children (14), great- great-grandchildren (2) and many nieces and nephews.

 

Robert Lee Tucker

Robert Lee Tucker, beloved husband and father, went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Wednesday morning, Feb. 3, 2021. He was preceded in death by his devoted and loving wife of 51 years, Eleanor (Mickey) Tucker; his second wife of 11 years, Loretta Quinn Tucker; and his father and mother, George Milton Tucker and Jessie Tucker. Robert was also preceded in death by his brothers: George Milton Tucker, Peck Tucker, Blaine Tucker, Hutch Tucker, Harold Tucker, George Tucker and Keith Hudnell; and sisters: Madeline Sweeney, Maimie Martin, Macel Hemmings and Arla Tucker, along with numerous children who came to their house during a rough time and were blessed to call the Tucker’s home their home, too.

Robert is survived by his children with Mickey: Terry Lynn (Alan) Lewis, Steven Mark (Denise) Tucker, Sandra Lee (Robert) Dorey. He is also survived by Rae’s daughters: Robin (Mark) Westerman, Melissa Smith, Tara Rodwell and Laticia (Scott) Turner. Robert is also survived by his 11 grandchildren: Angela Brown, Brian (Tiffany) Lewis, Jennifer (Ricky) Lindsey, Jessica (Cody) Walker, Katelynn (Bronn) Pav, Kindle Tucker, Meghan (Jacob) Willis, Pamela (Griffin) Norris, Ryan (Danielle) Dorey, Robert Campbell and Trisha (Greg) George; and 25 great-grandchildren, the apple of his eyes and the love of his heart.

Robert was born in Charleston, West Virginia, on July 20, 1931. He served in the West Virginia National Guard from 1950 through 1951. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1952 and served his country with pride until he retired in 1971. Upon retiring from the USAF, he moved to Florida and worked for Tampa International Aviation Authority until he retired again in 1987.

Robert was a Christian who loved serving in his local church. He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida; University Baptist Church, Tampa, Florida; and Trinity Church in Sun City Center, Fla. Robert served actively in all three churches as Deacon, Sunday School teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Bible Study Teacher, Training Union Leader, and he served on many committees. He was a Cub Scout Master. Robert was an avid reader and shared that passion with his children, reading Bible stories and age appropriate books nightly to them. He was a dedicated family man and always led by his Godly example. He was a great friend to many. He was always ready to help anyone in need. He was a bold witness for the Lord, desiring to share his faith daily. He had a great sense of humor and a great joke for every occasion. Robert’s smile and presence brightened any room he walked into. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew and loved him.

Robert was laid to rest at Florida National Cemetery.

Arrangements by Sun City Center Funeral Home, 813-634-9900.

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