The Phoenix Flyer

George Sheldon dies: “This is a devastating loss for all of us.”

By: - August 24, 2018 3:11 pm

George Sheldon, a former Florida lawmaker, state agency secretary and longtime child advocate, has died at 71.

The Miami Herald reported Friday that Sheldon died Thursday, “three weeks after he fell at his home gym, fracturing a vertebra in his neck.”

Sheldon had most recently been working as the CEO and President of Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, an organization responsible for the care and safety of foster children in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

“This is a devastating loss for all of us,” said Michael Williams, the acting president and CEO of Our Kids.

“George was beloved as a brother and uncle and we are greatly saddened by his loss and we will miss him dearly,” his family said in a statement posted on the website of Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe.

Sheldon’s long career included a stint in the Florida House, appointments in the Attorney General’s office as well as the Florida Department of Children and Families. He also served in federal posts during the Obama administration.

Sheldon then moved on to Illinois in 2015 to take charge of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, but his tenure was shrouded in controversy, according to the Chicago Tribune, and he stepped down in 2017 to work with Our Kids in Miami.

Several state Democrats took to Twitter on Friday to mourn his passing.

“Florida lost a true public servant and international humanitarian with the passing of George Sheldon,” tweeted Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg. “He led by example during our time working under AG Bob Butterworth. His big heart and legacy of service for foster children will live on for generations.”

“Thanks for your friendship & for your selfless commitment to enhancing the lives of Floridians,” tweeted Hialeah Republican state Senator Rene Garcia.

Democratic party activist and blogger Kartik Krishnaiyer told the Florida Phoenix in an email that Sheldon was a “unique individual who put policy and people first.”

Krishnaiyer said:

“His caring touch is evidenced by the number of young people through the years who gravitated to him as someone who was different than others in politics and government. I’m one of those individuals. I never would have developed my understanding of Florida government and historical perspectives about our state’s politics and faith in the process without him mentoring me almost two decades ago. My story is repeated by many others who were influenced positively by George’s wisdom and caring.”




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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.