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Prominent lawyer, lobbyist Ron LaFace dead at 71

Tallahassee lawyer-lobbyist Ron LaFace, an affable presence in the halls of Florida's Capitol for decades, died Friday of complications from a recent stroke. He was 71.

A native of Miami, LaFace was a University of Florida law school graduate and ardent supporter of the Gators. He was a shareholder in the Greenberg Traurig law firm and a civic leader who served on the Leon County Civic Center Authority, Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, Florida Chamber and trustee of the UF law school.

"Ron was my partner of 40 years, but more importantly, he was my friend," said Fred Baggett, managing partner of Greenberg Traurig's Tallahassee office. "He leaves a void that will be impossible to fill, but he also leaves an incredible example of integrity and service for all of us to follow."

Barry Richard, a founding member of the firm's Tallahassee office, called LaFace "a highly respected member of the legal and governmental professions in Florida." LaFace assisted Richard in the firm's historic representation of George W. Bush during Bush v. Gore, the protracted legal battles that were part of the 2000 Florida presidential recount.

Before he entered lobbying, LaFace was an assistant attorney general under Democrat Earl Faircloth in the late 1960s.

LaFace's long-time clients included the Air Transport Association, Ford Motor Company and Wometco Enterprises. He was a founder of the firm Roberts, Baggett, LaFace and Richard, which merged with Greenberg Traurig in 1991 and became the firm's first office outside South Florida. Baggett on Friday recalled LaFace's work as a leader of a political coalition that worked to repeal Florida's unitary tax in the mid-1980s.

LaFace's nephew was Randy Roberts, a respected lobbyist for Publix Supermarkets, who died in 2009 at the age of 36.    

Funeral arrangements were not announced. On Friday afternoon, the front door of the Greenberg Traurig offices in downtown Tallahassee featured a black wreath and black ribbon.  

-- Steve Bousquet