Editor's note: A version of this story ran last week in The Tampa Tribune.
Glen Cross had a knack at identifying property that had potential — not only for the developers but for future homeowners.
Cross, 72, died July 24 in a car crash in North Carolina. But he leaves behind a significant legacy in eastern Hillsborough County: the FishHawk Ranch community, which forever changed the nature of the Brandon area.
"What a great legacy to leave. FishHawk has been such a great place for so many families," said Brenda Wade, a Realtor with Signature Realty in Brandon.
"He was obviously a visionary."
Cross, who was also involved in Tampa's Town 'N Country community, was also admired for the way he did business.
"He was sensible, down to earth and very honest," said his friend and business partner Mandell 'Hinks' Shimberg. "He was universally loved in the business world."
Cross and his wife, Sandy, had a summer home in Banner Elk, N.C., and also lived in FishHawk Ranch in Lithia, where they were original buyers with Shimberg of the land that would help boost development in eastern Hillsborough County.
Friends described Cross as a quiet man who touched many lives. They said his philosophy was not only to help develop the area but to improve it.
Cross didn't settle for second-rate, former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said.
"For Glen it was about quality," said Iorio, who met Cross in 1984 when she was first seeking public office. "If it had his name associated with it, it had to be something of quality."
The quality and distinctive amenities Cross insisted upon helped turn an area that was once considered the boonies into a premiere destination, Wade said.
"FishHawk came in and put us in more of a master scale, like you would see in other communities – like Houston or Atlanta," she said.
In part, because of Cross' vision, FishHawk has fared better than other Tampa area communities in the economic downturn, Wade said.
Cross was kind and unassuming, Iorio said. He might attend a meeting and say little. But when he spoke, everyone listened, she said. "What he had to say was something of substance."
Cross was born in Indiana. In the 1960s, he worked evaluating property for Shimberg at a Tampa development company, LaMonte Shimberg.
The two became friends, and in 1975, they formed Shimberg Cross, a Tampa development company that remains minority partners in the FishHawk Ranch project. Cross was the president and had retired. Shimberg is the chairman.
"He was extremely knowledgeable," Shimberg said. "People dealt with him with no question about his business ethics."
Outside of the business world, Cross wanted to help others and see the community grow, friends said.
Cross was reserved and never sought the limelight, headlines or attention, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. But he was always willing to help, and wanted everyone involved in his business deals to benefit.
"He believed in this community and he believed that in every deal everyone should walk away a winner," Buckhorn said.
"He was just a kind, gentle person who never asked for anything. "He just wanted to help."
Along with his wife, Cross is survived by a son and daughter.