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Retired Hillsborough Co. judge remembered as 'fierce, inspiring' after sudden death

Posted at 9:43 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 23:17:27-05

TAMPA, Fla. -- A former Hillsborough County judge is being remembered for her many contributions to the Tampa Bay area.

Known for her no-nonsense approach on the bench, retired judge Tracy Sheehan served the 13th Judicial Circuit for 11 years.

"She was inspiring and fierce," said longtime friend, Wendy LaTorre. "She was one of the loudest voices and a voice that we needed."

She served the people of Hillsborough with distinction, honor & great compassion.

Judge Sheehan will be missed!

— 13th Circuit Court (@13thCourtFL) December 27, 2019

LaTorre knew Sheehan for 30 years and last spoke to the retired judge on Monday. The next day, Christmas Eve, she learned Sheehan had passed away at her cabin in Georgia.

"She was one-of-a-kind, she’s just that kind of friend that’s always there, no matter what," said LaTorre. "Every major life event for the last 30 years, whether it was a loss of siblings, parents, cancer, you know, spouse, whatever, we were there in each others lives."

Judge Sheehan was a champion for domestic violence survivors, even making house calls to check on victims who had passed through her courtroom.

She beat breast cancer and often rode her Harley-Davidson motorcycle to the courthouse.

Friends and colleagues are now remembering Sheehan for her big heart and attacking the high-profile job, and life, in her own, unique way.

"She definitely helped a lot of people be better people," said LaTorre. "We should all hope to have her legacy."