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.
The first thing I picked up about him was his calmness.
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.”
He was a wealth of knowledge and willing to help anyone.
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.