For more than 40 years, Paul Stuart charted the legal course of Coconut Creek from its infancy to the bustling suburb it’s become. The former city attorney, who retired last year, died Thursday after a long illness. The Boca Raton resident was 74.
Officials recalled Coconut Creek’s first city attorney as a man as skilled at law as he was personable.
“The city of Coconut Creek is the award-winning city it is in large part because of the work of Paul Stuart,” said Mary Blasi, Coconut Creek’s city manager.
The Buffalo, N.Y., native received a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and his law degree from American University. Stuart started his career in South Florida as a founding partner of the Fort Lauderdale law firm Stuart Walker.
For a while, he remained in private practice and worked for Coconut Creek on a part-time basis, helping to write the city’s laws and dispensing legal advice.
“It was almost rural back then,” recalled Gloria Stuart, his wife of 28 years.
But slowly the city’s business became a full-time job and he was appointed the city’s first attorney.
“He nurtured the city,” said Coconut Creek Mayor Becky Tooley. “He watched out for us. He kept us out of trouble. He was very strict about the rules and regulations for the city.”
His legacy to Coconut Creek can be found in the city’s charter, its ordinances and in the agreement that resulted in the Coconut Creek Casino being built, said Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, a former mayor and city commissioner now running for state Senate.
“He was always personable, even-tempered and his knowledge of the law was unmatched — especially when it was related to what was in the best interests of Coconut Creek,” Waldman said.
Waldman and Stuart collaborated on the city’s behalf to negotiate the pact with the Seminoles that brought in the casino.
His wife recalled her husband’s travel adventures that took him to all seven continents, with Antarctica becoming his favorite for its wildlife and desolate beauty.
He is also survived by his son, Greg; daughter, Erin; brother, Dennis; three nieces and his two pugs, MiMi and Zsa Zsa.
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