Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Manatee County bids farewell to noted defense attorney Mark Lipinski

The mood started off somber within the Manatee County Historic Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon as hundreds gathered to bid farewell to a Manatee County legal legend.
Mark Lipinski, 65, died in his home on the morning of July 14, of natural causes. Brown & Sons Funeral Homes handled the arrangements and according to owner Gene Brown, more than 200 people attended a memorial service Monday just prior to Lipinski being laid to rest later that evening.
Because of Lipinski’s popularity, Brown said, it only made sense to plan a second memorial service on Tuesday, this one taking place in the second floor chambers of the Manatee County Historic Courthouse, a fitting place for the legal community to say goodbye.
More than 100 people came to Lipinski’s second memorial service. While the mood was somber as teary-eyed mourners watched a slide show of Lipinski’s life, it didn’t take long for smiles to appear as those who knew him, remembered the man.
Bradenton attorney Layon Robinson
Local attorney Layon Robinson first met Lipinski in the 1970s when Lipinski first began pursuing his law career, and 20 years before he went into private practice in Bradenton, after moving to Florida from his native Chicago.
“The first thing I picked up about him was his calmness,” said Robinson. “He turned into a very good lawyer and he was a very good person.”
Robinson said Lipinski’s friendship to those he knew spread well beyond the confines of a courtroom.
“When my wife was diagnosed with ALS, he would always stop me and ask me how she’s doing,” said Robinson. “He said he was very sorry and was always asking if there was anything he could do for me. That was important to me because I was going through a hard time, but that was the character he showed to me.”
Robinson saw Lipinski just two days before his sudden passing.
“He came by the office on that Tuesday to wish me well with a new partnership,” said Robinson. “I always liked Mark. He was a fair-minded person.”
Bradenton attorney Patrick Kane
Others described Lipinski as the politician who could work across party lines. While Lipinski focused on criminal defense, attorney Patrick Kane said he wouldn’t hesitate to help fellow defense attorneys, as well as prosecutors.
“He worked tirelessly for his clients,” said Kane. “He was a wealth of knowledge and willing to help anyone. You could call him or stop him on the street and he’d say, ‘Come on by my office and let’s work it out.’”
Kane met Lipinski in 2000 and one year later would be co-counsel with Lipinski in a criminal case.
“That one didn’t work out well because both our clients were convicted,” recalled Kane. “He was a unique individual. So many people are talking about how they are going to miss him and how different it will be without him. That was the type of person he was.”
Like many conversations within the old courtroom, these began somber but memories of Lipinski’s love for life quickly brought smiles back to mourning faces.
“And let’s not forget Mark’s legendary Christmas parties,” said Kane with a laugh.
Lipinski leaves behind his wife, Marilee.
Lipinski lost vision in one of his eyes in 1997. He was equally passionate about vision-related disabilities as he was about law. As such, his family asks that contributions in his name be made to Palmetto’s Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Small gestures helped define Mark Lipinski


Anderson: Bradenton attorney was more than long hours he worked

Small gestures helped define Mark Lipinski

Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at 12:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at 12:45 p.m.

Bradenton attorney Mark Lipinski died July 14. HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVE / 2001 / THOMAS BENDER
Angel Colonneso and Mark Lipinski were standing outside the Manatee County Judicial Center one night when a storm approached. She didn't have an umbrella so he gave her his.

It's funny, but you spend your whole adult life working incessantly, nights and weekends, pouring your heart into your career, trying so hard to make something of your life that it actually contributes to your death, and in the end that's not what defines you at all.

Instead, it's a small gesture. One like giving someone an umbrella, or sending a sympathy card with a poem attached inside to someone whose dog has died, as Lipinski once did for Colonneso.

Lipinski's passing last week at 65 shocked many in the Bradenton community. He was a tremendous defense attorney, and it's true, people were quick to praise his intellect and tireless work habits, but his life was seen as more than all the cases he successfully handled, and perhaps that would have surprised him a bit to know.

Longtime friend and attorney Adam Tebrugge started a blog where people left their remembrances of Lipinski, and while Colonneso — Manatee County clerk of circuit court — mentioned the sympathy card and umbrella it was interesting to note that she wrote nothing about his work.

People wrote about Lipinski's love for Patti Smith and Warren Zevon songs, his fondness for Werner Herzog movies, the time as a frat boy he raced down the street on top of a piano.

A man thanked him for being there when his grandparents died, and another person remembered how the entire Manatee County Sheriff's Office — out of respect — helped him look for his elderly father, Stan, who went missing from a grocery store. Yet another remembered how he agonized over writing the obit for his father, who died in 2014, and how lonely he felt without him.

Tebrugge also remembers many things beyond work, like how much he read. He says his shelves were filled not only with law books, but sea-shanty-type stories. He loved listening to the cast recording of the musical "Hamilton," too.

Whenever Lipinski walked into Aces Lounge in Bradenton, which was only about five times a year, he was treated like a rock star. In fact, he had a VIP lifetime pass given to him by owner Rene Bennett for helping her when legal problems arose.

When Tebrugge was in a career transition stage in 2009, Lipinski let him use an office upstairs in the iconic building he owned in downtown Bradenton, and never asked for rent.

Tebrugge learned about Memphis Minnie, a famous blue guitarist, from Lipinski. He remembers how happy he was when Herzog, the famous German movie director, appeared in Sarasota and Lipinski was able to get a photo taken with him. It was one of the best days of his life.

Lipinski loved dogs, including his own, Arlo, who was always around the office. If Lipinski was talking to a client and Arlo wanted to go out, then the client would have to tell Lipinski the case details as he threw a ball to the dog in back of the office. One time, Tebrugge remembers, Arlo threw up on a client.

Tebrugge also recalls how Lipinski would often stop at a nursing home and play cards with his father, who had grown very ill.

“It was tough on Mark to watch his dad deteriorate," Tebrugge says. “We had a serious talk once and one of Mark's comments was, 'Adam, there are worse things than death.' While I'm very sad to lose my friend I also reflect upon that.

“I know Mark wouldn't have wanted that for himself."

Attorney Scarlett Guy, who worked alongside Lipinski at his firm, wrote: “I just want him to tell me one more story. I just want to sit in his car listening to the Hamilton CD or talk about how on our next Vegas trip we were going river rafting.

“He was truly the biggest man in any room I have ever been in and that void is beyond filling."

On Tuesday night, at the old Manatee County Courthouse, a celebration of life was scheduled for the lawyer who worked harder than almost anybody in town.

Rain was in the forecast, and Mark Lipinski, most certainly, would have brought an umbrella.
Chris Anderson can be reached
Published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, July 20, 2015

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


     Mark Lipinski, 65, of Bradenton, FL died on July 14, 2016 of natural causes. He was 65 years old and had a remarkable life. Mark was born in Chicago, IL to his Canadian father, Stanley W. Lipinski and to his mother, Donna M. Wilson, a North Dakota native. The family moved from Chicago to St. Paul, ultimately landing in Lakeland, FL for most of Mark's childhood. 
     Mark's father, Stanley was an Orthopedic Surgeon. Mark had a normal childhood playing little league baseball, practicing karate with his father and fishing mostly unsuccessfully. In high school, Mark became an enthusiastic (but never as good as he thought he was) golfer. He enjoyed water skiing with his high school and warmed the bench playing both baseball and football at Lakeland High School. Mark's teenage work ethic was established early, as he worked summers and holidays in college in the phosphate pits of Central Florida. Mark set the bar for all the Lipinski children and graduated high school with honors, an early indication of the successful powerhouse he would become. 
     In 1969, Mark made the decision to attend Washington and Lee University but transferred to the University of Florida after 1 year which led to his lifelong devotion to the Gators, later evidenced by his ever-present Orange Shirt and Gator hat. During his undergraduate years, Mark went through a rebellious stage – and became both an avid skydiver after taking a friend's dare (resulting in over 90 jumps) as well as scuba diver – working part time in an dive shop based in Gainesville, FL.
      It was interesting that through all of Mark's schooling, he only had one profession in mind. The Law. He knew from high school age that he wanted to pursue law as a profession. After graduating from University of Florida law school, he joined the Palm Beach County Public Defender's Office for a 2 year sojourn, he move to Sarasota and worked for the State Attorney's Office. After leaving the State Attorney's Office he had short stints with Henry Trawick and Larry Byrd. Mark then migrated to Palmetto and joined Jerome Pratt's firm as a young defense litigator. 
     In 1990, Mark opened his own practice focusing on criminal defense and worked tirelessly in the pursuit of improving his craft. Most weekends his car could be found parked in back of his office to continue working with clients as he was always committed to the unending quest for answers questions of law. Many in the community considered him a walking encyclopedia of law, known for his ability to recite case law off the cuff. Mark reveled in the opportunity to push his colleagues and associates to bring their very best to each legal argument, because he believed that in doing so – it raised the overall quality of our legal system. 
     Mark had only three loves in his life: His wife Marilee, Arlo and The Law. Mark was a man of honor and honest to a fault. He was an incredibly loyal friend and a fearsome opponent in court. Although Mark lost his sight in one eye in 1997, it did not slow down his enthusiasm nor his work pace. Mark was generous – frequently allowing young attorney's beginning their practices to use office space upstairs in his building rent free and he was renowned throughout the Bradenton and Sarasota counties for his story telling abilities. Mark Lipinski was a man of the millennium so unique and complex that he will never be replicated. 
     Mark is survived by his wife, Marilee Lipinski, step-daughter, Dorothy Putman, her husband, Blake and his grandchild, Gracie Putman. Services for Mark Lipinski will be held on Tuesday July 19, 2016 at the Manatee County Historical Courthouse in the historical courtroom on the second floor, from 4 PM-6 PM, with a Celebration of Life beginning at 6 PM. Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 43rd Street Chapel is in charge of arrangements. Given Mark's own experiences with loss of sight, he would be grateful if any contributions you might consider making would be directed to the: Southeastern Guide Dogs, 4210 77th St. East, Palmetto, FL 34221 in order to help those with sight disabilities Condolences may be made to

Published in Herald Tribune on July 19, 2016

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Donations in Memory of Mark

A message from Charlie Ann Syprett: Marilee Lipinski has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Memory Of Mark to SOUTHEAST GUIDE DOGS at 4210 77th Street E., Palmetto, Florida 34221. It is our hope that we can collect enough money to actually name a dog in Mark's memory. She asked that the dog be named MARLO - a tribute to both Mark and his beloved dog, ARLO. I know Mark would have really liked this. Please share this message. Thanks.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Durand Adams

Services for Mark

From Scarlett Guy:

We have finalized the viewing and service information for Mark. Thank you for all the wonderful thoughts and messages.
In Memory of Mark Lipinski:
A viewing will be held on Monday, July 18, 2016 from 4pm –7pm at Brown and Sons Funeral Home located at 604 43rd Street West, Bradenton, FL 34205.
On Tuesday, July 19, 2016 a viewing will be held at the Historical Courtroom in the Historical Courthouse located at 1115 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205 from 4pm – 6pm with a Celebration of Mr. Lipinski's Life beginning at 6 p.m.

Jimmy Brown

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