ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – St. Pete’s yearly Honored Veteran Ceremony returns for its 7th year in a row at Williams Park. The event that was originally scheduled for Veterans Day on November 11 was postponed due to Hurricane Eta. Mayor Rick Kriseman will celebrate Veterans Day by honoring veterans and presenting the Honored Veteran Award to two outstanding local veterans.
- Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 8 a.m.
- Williams Park Veterans Memorial
- 330 2nd Ave. N.
Capacity at the event will be limited and attendees will be expected to maintain social distance. All City guidelines and recommendations for assembly referenced in The St. Pete Way toolkit on RestartStPete.com will be followed.
Those interested in attending are encouraged to watch the Facebook Live stream of the event at facebook.com/StPeteFL.
This year’s Honored Veteran Awards will be presented to the late Dr. Bill Heller, former Dean at USFSP and Army veteran, and Jim Nixon, LGBTQ Liaison with the City of St. Petersburg and Navy veteran.
Dr. Harold William “Bill” Heller was born in Scales Mound, Illinois, in 1935 and passed away in St. Petersburg, Florida, in September 2020. Dr. Heller was a longtime leader in our community, an educator, state representative, philanthropist, and volunteer for countless organizations. A graduate of Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and the University of Northern Colorado, he worked in Washington D.C for the Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) department, served as the Dean of Education at the University of Alabama, superintendent of Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Dean of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s College of Education and Allied Professions. He then served as the Dean and CEO of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg for ten years, transforming the university from a small, commuter school serving only upperclassmen and graduate students to the place it is today. Dr. Heller later returned to a leadership capacity, serving as dean of the College of Education at USFSP and Director of the Bishop Center for Ethical Leadership Studies.
Dr. Heller was a veteran of the U.S. Army having served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and was interred at Bay Pines National Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, Marlene Jeanne Heller, his three children, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
James “Jim” Nixon serves as the LGBTQ Liaison in the Office of the Mayor for the City of St. Petersburg. He is the former marketing manager at Metro Inclusive Health and has been a constant marketing force in the LGBTQ community throughout Tampa Bay through his time at the Dali Museum, Ruth Eckerd Hall, and the Watermark Newspaper. Jim has raised thousands of dollars to combat HIV and AIDS through his participation in The SMART Ride from Miami to Key West.
Jim Nixon is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving as a Seaman Recruit Quartermaster aboard the USS Raleigh in 1984. Jim was discharged for being gay, denied the opportunity to fulfill his dream of a career in the U.S. Navy.
As a leader in our community, Jim has shared his story of resilience with others, reminding us of the discrimination our LGBTQ service members faced and why we must continue to fight for equality and justice.
Previous Honored Veterans are:
- 2019: Geoff Barker
- 2018: Maxine Cardinal Wehry
- 2017: Carrie W. Nero and Charles Claybaker