HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (CBSMiami) – George Firestone, the former Florida Secretary of State known for launching the Sunshine State into foreign trade by pushing for free trade zones, has died. He was 80.
According to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald, Firestone passed away at a Hollywood assisted living facility after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Firestone, a self-taught businessman, served at Secretary of State from 1978-1987 after a stint as a state representative from Miami-Dade County from 1966-72 and a state senator from 1972-78.

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“When I first ran for mayor he told me the No. 1 thing is to be honest,” said Scott Maddox, who served as Tallahassee’s mayor for 10 years. “He was honest his entire career.”

During his tenure in Tallahassee, Firestone is credited with updating the state seal, which hadn’t been changed since 1868, by adding the sabal palm as the state’s tree.
Firestone is survived by his wife and step-daughter.

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“We lost a great Floridian,’’ Maddox said. “They just don’t make them like him any more.’’

Memorial services will be held at Nova Southeastern University, where Firestone received an honorary doctorate degree, at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Firestone’s memory to the National MS Society, 3201 W. Commercial Blvd., Suite 127, Fort Lauderdale, 33309, or to the Alzheimer’s Association, 3333 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach, 33406.

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