Barry Horenbein, a lobbyist who worked the Capitol for decades and was a colorful throwback to a simpler time, died peacefully Thursday at his home in Tallahassee. He was 80 and had battled esophegeal cancer for the past two years.
Raised on Miami Beach, Horenbein first hung out his lobbying shingle in Tallahassee in 1962. The company was called Florida Consultants Inc., and Farris Bryant was governor.
Horenbein was known for his advocacy on behalf of the parimutuel industry, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the 3M Corp., as well as his close friendship with the late Senate President Jim King of Jacksonville. He was an All-Conference baseball player at the University of Florida and had a brief professional baseball career with the Baltimore Orioles.
His career spanned 52 years, enough time to include nine governors, 22 House speakers and 23 Senate presidents. Lobbying in those days was a mixture of advocacy, salesmanship and public relations.
"My first client was Hillsborough Printing Company out of Tampa," Horenbein said in a 1990 oral history with UF, his alma mater. "I was just getting them business out of the state of Florida, more or less kind of like a salesman. I guess my first fairly big client was, the city of Miami Beach hired me. I'm sorry, it was not the city of Miami Beach, it was the Deauville Hotel. The city of Miami Beach was awarded the national governors' conference and all of the hotels were competing against each other for the main function. The Deauville Hotel hired me."
The Horenbein family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Barry Horenbein Memorial Fund at the Leon County Animal Shelter. Funeral arrangements are pending at Culley's MeadowWood Funeral Home in Tallahassee.