Former Pinellas County Sheriff Gerard "Gerry" Coleman passed way Tuesday at age 78. He died of natural causes at home, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualteri said in a statement.
Coleman worked for the Pinellas sheriff's office from 1960 to 1989. Starting his career as a patrol deputy, Coleman served as a detective and a lieutenant before serving as sheriff from 1981 to 1989, the year he retired.
Among Coleman's many professional accomplishments, he was sheriff when the agency established its first internal affairs unit and victim advocate program. He was instrumental in bringing the 911 Center to the sheriff's office.
Coleman was at the helm during the modernizing of the agency's technology, air wing, and building and improving the correctional facility on 49th Street in Clearwater.
Coleman is survived by his wife Barbara; sons Kevin (Christie), Stephan (Leslie), and Frank (Katie); brother Frank (Esmeralda); grandchildren Delaney and Jack and many nieces and nephews.
A visitation and prayer service is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, at David Gross Funeral Service, 830 N. Belcher Road, Clearwater.
The funeral will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at St. Cecelia Catholic Church, 820 Jasmine Way, Clearwater. Burial will occur immediately following the funeral with procession at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, 5233 118th Ave. N. in Clearwater.
The family is asking in lieu of flowers to send donations to the Florida Sheriff Youth Ranch in memory of Sheriff Coleman at wwwyouthranches.org.