OBITUARY

David Alfred Alfonso

March 7, 1948August 6, 2021
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David Alfonso, a fine writer and mostly decent human, moved on August 6, 2021 at his and his wife’s lovely abode on McKay Creek in Largo.

He is survived by his mom, Grace; wife of 35 years, Janice, and the wonderful kids Phil and Jenny.

The end was a little rough, but, hey, no one gets out alive, nor always on their own terms. Still, he claimed one final assignment for himself, writing his obituary. And so, he (I) will now change to the first person. I acknowledge that I didn’t always make my deadlines, but, in grim retrospect, I apparently made this one.

I was born March 7, 1948, the only child of Grace Alfonso, a bank teller, and Alfred Alfonso, a janitor and life-long scrapper (15-3 as a pro) until his early demise at 63.

Their first home was a basement apartment where dad cleaned. Humility would always be in our make-up.

I rode my trike through the wooden hallways later in the day. Think a benevolent Danny in The Shining!

Al and Grace sacrificed mightily for me, always, so that I might inch ahead in life, “make it,” if you will. And to a significant degree I did, although a determined, under-achiever side would interfere.

I was a Latino in South Tampa when such things still mattered, but I always held my head high. My educational and cultural pipeline was Mitchell, Wilson and Plant. A couple of highlights:

President of Wilson Junior High. Starting fullback on the ’65 Plant Panthers’ first playoff team. Member of Plant Hall of Fame (faculty-elected).

When it came to the ladies, I was a prodigious over-achiever, culminating with marriage to my Queen of Hearts, Janice Harwell.

THE University of Florida was my destiny. But while I was interested in everything, I piddled through with a degree in philosophy. Really, philosophy. Not what you were expecting, right?

I worked as a “housing counselor” and then, a couple of years later (it was the Watergate influence), I decided that maybe I could be a newspaper writer. And darned if it didn’t happen.

From a volunteer at the USF Oracle to reporting gigs at the Clearwater Sun and my hometown paper The Tampa Tribune, I was a happy camper. It was the heyday of print, and I witnessed the best of Sports World.

I covered a ton of big-time college football games and had a front-row seat to the last golden era of boxing, the 1980s and Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran. I saw the drama up close and mingled with THE best writers, of which I was occasionally genuinely included.

In the early 1980s I set aside my single-man ways and hooked up with single-mom Jan (we married in 1986) and her two youngsters. She was a first-grade teacher, as good as there ever was. Devoted doesn’t begin to describe her.

I was “Daddy Dave” to Phil and Jenny. They’re great people -- sweet, kind and thoughtful – and will be fine.

When the bottom dropped out of my writing career, after a 20-year extremely enjoyable run, I somehow transitioned to an algebra teacher at my alma mater Plant High. I spent 10 years walking two blocks to work and teaching algebra to the utes. Teachers should be paid double.

I retired in 2008 and lived large in Largo. We lived on McKay Creek, a mile south of West Bay. If I’d had a kayak, knew how to kayak and liked to kayak, I could have been in the intracoastal and open Gulf in about 15 minutes. But since I didn’t, I often sat on the backyard deck and drank in the spectacular view.

Now it’s time to say goodbye. A 25-year duel with chronic lymphocytic leukemia has come crashing down with a vengeance, and I do mean a vengeance. Once a two-time finisher at St. Anthony’s Triathlon, I am bed-ridden and don’t care for it a bit, even as the wonderful care of Hospice tries to take the edge off the inevitable.

Funny how we get a taste for that Old-Time Religion when times get tough. I am saved by Christ, I do believe.

The pain-killers will wear off before long. While I am invigorated by the act of writing (yes, even this), I know what follows and don’t welcome it. It was a great ride, with lots of laughs and tenderness.

In keeping with the tradition of obits, I ask you to make a donation to a worthy cause. They’re everywhere. (Clearwater Audubon Society perhaps?)

Finally, buy a Sunday newspaper and enjoy it over a cheese omelette, crispy hash browns, thick bacon, fresh Florida OJ, and a large café con leche. And remember: Kindness is free. Sprinkle that stuff everywhere.

Services

  • A Celebration of Life

    Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Memories

David Alfred Alfonso

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Daria Marnella

August 29, 2021

Mr. Alfonso's obituary was shared on Linked In.
It touched my heart so deeply that I had to send condolences but also say " thank you" for making me appreciate my day ahead and those that remain.
God bless and keep you.
I sent heartfelt sympathy.
My son "David Marnella " just married August 7th to his Queen of hearts. David means beloved.
Prayers for healing.

Kelly Purol

August 27, 2021

Grace,

I didn't know your husband personally. However, his Obituary found its way to.me and made me smile. After a long day....I could use that 😀 GO GATORS.

Prayers and blessings,

Kelly Purol

Lenora Thompson

August 27, 2021

I never knew you but, as a fellow writer, I adored your obituary. When it's my time to walk that path we all must walk alone, I only hope I have time to write such a charming, witty and humorous obituary as you did. Tell my husband there's a rough draft in my journal. LOL You inspired me, Mr. Alfonso. RIP.

Cynthia Crookston

August 24, 2021

David was our next door neighbor in the early ‘80’s in Valrico. We have such happy memories of David and our chats about sports. Much comfort and love to your family

Jim and Cindy Crookston

Anthony Perez

August 19, 2021

My condolences to the family and Fonz's seemingly endless number of friends. Got to know him more the past few years as part of the football group and was treated to his BS Report that was pure gold. A good guy and a hell of a writer, as evidenced by an obituary that was vintage Fonz.

Carol DeLozier O’Connell

August 16, 2021

I attended Mitchell, Wilson, and Plant with David. I followed his writing career and reading his obituary I can see how and why he had such a full and wonderful life. He was passionate about all he set out to do. It was an honor to know him. My sympathy to his family. May he Rest In Peace and rise in glory! God speed.

Linda Guggino Humphers

August 16, 2021

When David worked for the Tampa Tribune, he wrote a wonderful story about my uncle, Carl Guggino, who had been a boxer in the 1930s and 1940s. My Uncle Steve Guggino was so thrilled with the story, that he decided to make David his friend and the recipient of many many phone calls. In fact, the whole Guggino family, whether we knew or ever met David or not, decided he was definitely our friend. And I was just as saddened to hear of his passing as if he were. To a good man, RIP.

Priscilla Vargas

August 15, 2021

Mr. Alfonso was my math teacher at Plant High School and he was an amazing man! I remember our class being a tough class and he still managed to teach us with passion, and assist those who wanted to learn! I’m blessed to have crossed paths with him in my life!!! And will never forget him! May he Rest In Peace and condolences to his family 🙏🏼

Ben Wiley

August 15, 2021

I met David purely by accident. About 4 years ago, his copy of the ‘New York Review of Books’ was misdelivered to my mailbox. It was folded up inside my own subscription so I got two that day! And here I thought I surely must be the only local guy with a NYRB subscription, but less than a mile away on McKay Creek, here was another NYRB reader. I had to meet this guy and hand-deliver his missing copy of NYRB!! I knew he had to be wondering about his missing issue. So I took his folded-up copy, drove to his address, walked to the front door, held up the copy, introduced myself and told him why I was there. It’s as if we had been friends forever. I came in. We talked books. We talked book reviews. We talked teaching. I talked kayaks (I kayak; he obviously doesn’t). He talked Florida sports; I talked Rays. We both talked of our love for print journalism. We laughed, a lot. A friendship was born from a misdelivered ‘New York Review of Books’ and my insistence on learning which of my neighbors had so many of the same interests I did. It probably would make a good short story, maybe by Chekhov (small domestic scene of two neighbors who’d never met, subscribing to the same esoteric magazine) or O’Henry (one articulate, literate, kind man dying way too soon, writing his own obit to deadline, and heartily laughing at the grotesque irony of that, taking pleasure in what he knew was a good piece!). Rest In Peace, David. It was so good to know you. -Ben

Caroline Harvey

August 15, 2021

Mr. Alfonso was my high school algebra teacher at Plant. I believe it was in 2003. He was such a wonderful man. I remember him very well and he sure did love teaching! Sending prayers.

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