Columnist Len Tria dies after bout with cancer

Former Hernando County Commissioner Len Tria, well-known booster of economic development who was called a mentor to government leaders, died Thursday after a bout with cancer.

He was 76.

Tria was admitted to Hernando-Pasco Hospice Wednesday night and died around 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

He was a long-time columnist for Hernando Today and was known for his conservative viewpoints. His columns appeared ocassionaly in The Suncoast News.

Barbara Tria, his wife of 53 years, said doctors discovered the cancer in August and it progressed quickly.

“He loved writing,” she said. “He had such a brilliant mind, remembering and quoting from books. He kept saying he was going to write a book but he never got around to it.

“(He) was a very strong man, strong-minded, a very good friend,” Barbara Tria said. “If you were a friend if his, you were a friend for life.”

Tria is also survived by a daughter, Barbara Jean, 52 and a grandson, Matthew Parrott, 24.

A retired New York police detective, Tria moved to Hernando County in 1981 and soon became active in politics and other groups.

Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce President Pat Crowley said Tria was well-versed, not only in local politics but also state issues, especially in the area of transportation.

Until about two years ago, Tria was the chamber’s paid liaison for the Hernando County Association of Realtors, the Hernando Builders Association and Hernando Progress, she said.

Morris Porton, Hernando County executive-senior vice president for Florida Traditions Bank, said Tria was influential in local government.

“I am going to remember him as someone who truly cared about his community and the business community,” Porton said. “He strongly felt that the private sector should have a say-so in county government. He was a passionate person. He was passionate in everything he did.”

Jim Kimbrough, vice chairman of SunTrust for the Tampa Bay region, concurs.

“I don’t think anybody that I ever knew had more experience and knowledge about the county budget,” he said.

County Commission Chairman Dave Russell said Tria was a mentor to government officials and staffers.

“Len was always very well-studied on the issues and that is why people would seek his counsel,” he said.

Former Hernando Today and Suncoast News publisher Duane Chichester called Tria a staunch supporter of economic development.

“Len Tria worked tirelessly for our community as a county commissioner, in the field of economic development and for bringing the business community together,” Chichester said. “No doubt his work for the community has made this community better by his leadership and service.”

Tria was Catholic and there will be a Mass, Barbara said. Services will be announced at a later time.

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