State Rep. Don Hahnfeldt, a Central Florida Republican who was elected to the Florida House after a long career in the Navy, has died of cancer. He was 73.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes announced Hahnfeldt’s death in a tweet Christmas afternoon in a message posted on Twitter.
“It is with deep sadness that I notify you of the passing of our friend and colleague Representative Don Hahnfeldt,” Corcoran said in a memo sent to House members. “Don lived a life of extraordinary service to his country, his state and his community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will pass along further details as they become available.”
Hahnfeldt spent 32 years in the Navy and commanded two nuclear submarines and served as commander of the Pacific Fleet’s Strategic Submarine Squadron. He moved to The Villages after retiring from the Navy and was elected to the Sumter County Commission in 2012. He was elected last year to the House District 33 seat representing Sumter and parts of Lake and Marion counties.
It was just last week that Hahnfeldt made headlines when he filed legislation along with Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, in the House, and Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, in th Senate, that would ban anyone under the age of 21 from smoking in Florida. The current legal age is 18. His death comes just over two weeks before the start of the 2018 legislative session, which is set to begin on Jan. 9.ic
“Our whole Florida House family is saddened by the passing of our colleague Rep. Don Hahnfeldt,” tweeted Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, who is scheduled to take over as speaker 2020. “Our hearts go out to his wife, his children and his grandchildren. As well as all their friends and neighbors. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
“My wife Ann and I are saddened by the news of Representative Don Hahnfeldt’s passing,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.
Hahnfeldt is survived by his wife, Cheryle, as well as hs three children, Christiana, Katherine, and Jennifer, and seven grandchildren, John, Analiese, Madalyn, Thomas, Andrew, Henry, and Cullen.