Former Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Robert DiNicola dies at 86

Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Joanne “Cookie” Kennedy is shown with her predecessors, R.B. Johnson, left, and Bob DiNicola, who served from 1994 to 2005. DiNicola died Nov. 29 at the age of 86.

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — Former Mayor Robert DiNicola, 86, died Nov. 29.

DiNicola went into a local hospital about a week ago suffering from congestive heart failure and kidney failure, said Mayor Cookie Kennedy.

DiNicola resigned in March 2005 after having served as Indian Rocks Beach mayor since March 1994 and as a city commissioner from March 1983 through March 1991. He moved to the Ocala area with his wife, Renie, before moving back to Largo several years ago.

Kennedy said DiNicola was her mentor.

“He was a gentle giant. Kind, loving,” Kennedy said. “Whenever you came into a room you were the most important person. He was like a second father to me.”

DiNicola served on the Pinellas Planning Council and was the first Indian Rocks Beach representative to be elected president of the Barrier Islands Government Council. Her served on the BIG-C from 1994 through 2005. He also served on the Metropolitan Planning Council, which is now Forward Pinellas.

Kennedy said DiNicola was instrumental in the start of the beach trolley service and establishing the Indian Rocks Beach Nature Preserve. 

She said he worked with the county to obtain the first three crosswalks in IRB — a prototype that would later spread throughout the rest of the beach communities.

The partners in the projects respected DiNicola. 

“They just thought he was such a great mayor that they did it as a prototype,” Kennedy said.

DiNicola and his wife, Renie, lived for 26 years in Indian Rocks Beach. 

“The one thing I will miss more than anything are the people who’ve called me over the years with what they think is an insurmountable situation and ask if I can help them out,” said DiNicola in an interview in 2005. “I love helping people. I will miss that.”

DiNicola had two children. 

A viewing will be held Sunday, Dec. 8, 5 to 7 p.m., at Serenity Gardens, 13401 Indian Rocks Road.

A funeral Mass will be held Monday, Dec. 9, 1 p.m., at St. Jerome Church, 10895 Hamlin Blvd. Burial and reception will follow at Serenity Gardens.