Jim Blosser, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer who raised millions for civic causes and political candidates, who was intimately involved in South Florida’s biggest deals for professional sports teams, and who served as a top executive with Huizenga Holdings, has died.
Blosser died on Aug. 11 at age 85. He died of leukemia, said his daughter, Bailey Blosser.
“There are a tiny number of people who have done more for Broward County in the past 40 years than he has,” said Justin Sayfie, who was his partner in the Blosser & Sayfie law and lobbying firm from 2004 until Blosser retired in 2015. “His legacy is impressive and unique.”
Blosser’s association — borne in shared support for a presidential candidate — with the late billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga involved him in the highest levels of business and in South Florida, including the Miami Dolphins, the Florida Panthers and what was then known as the Florida Marlins.
“Jim was Wayne’s right-hand guy,” said Broward County Commissioner Steve Geller. Later, he said, “Blosser Sayfie was one of the go-to law firms if you need to get political stuff done.”
And, Geller said, “He was a real leader in the community. He was a mover and a shaker. He was good at what he did. He was always a gentleman.”
Blosser met Huizenga in the mid-1980s, and a few years later developed what Blosser’s family described as a close alliance while working together on George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign.
In 1990, Blosser was legal counsel to Huizenga when he made his initial investment in the Miami Dolphins. The next year, Blosser left his law firm and became general counsel to Huizenga Holdings and assistant to the CEO and chairman of the board at Blockbuster Entertainment, one of Huizenga’s companies.
The pair had a major influence on South Florida sports as Huizenga bought the Dolphins and what was then Joe Robbie stadium; Huizenga got a Major League Baseball expansion team, the Florida Marlins, now known as the Miami Marlins; and obtained a National Hockey League expansion team, the Florida Panthers, who play in Sunrise.
Blosser involved in Republican politics — especially on behalf of the Bush family.
He worked on the successful and unsuccessful campaigns and raised millions of dollars for the presidential and gubernatorial candidacies of George H.W. Bush, Jeb Bush and George W. Bush.
In 1988 he chaired George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign in Broward and won the county — something almost no Republican has done since. Sayfie said that made Blosser the “OG of Broward Republicans.”
Blosser was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1988, when Bush was nominated for president and in 2000 when George W. Bush was nominated.
Geller, a former Florida Senate Democratic leader, said Blosser had “strong political views.” But, he said, Blosser exemplified an earlier era — unlike today — when Republicans and Democrats could and did differ, but didn’t regard people on the other side as mortal enemies.
Blosser was involved in many civic, charitable and business organizations, as a leader and fundraiser.
“If a community problem needs solving, Fort Lauderdale civic activist Jim Blosser usually can orchestrate a fix,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported in 2000, describing his efforts raising money for the homeless and building parks.
He was the first president of the Broward Community Foundation; an organizer of the Broward Workshop, the group of CEOs and top executives in the county; founding director of the Homeless Assistance Center, and chair of a campaign that raised $6 million.
He was a founding trustee of the foundation at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts; president of the United Way of Broward County; vice chairman of WPBT-Ch. 2 public television; board chairman at Pine Crest School; president of the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce; and the first president of the Stranahan House Museum.
Indiana to South Florida
James J. Blosser was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., on March 27, 1938, and spent much of his youth in Lafayette, Ind. He left in 1956 to attend college at the University of Miami.
After service in the Army and law school at UM, he joined English, McCaughan & O’Bryan in Fort Lauderdale and later the Ruden Barnett law firm. (It eventually became Ruden McClosky and dissolved in the aftermath of the 2008 real estate downturn, long after Blosser had left.)
In 1999, Blosser became a partner in the lobbying firm Poole, McKinley and Blosser before partnering with Sayfie.
Blosser is survived by his wife of nearly 44 years, Nancy; son Bentley Blosser of West Glacier, Mont.; daughters Gretchen Parker of Wilmington, N.C.; Whitney Delanoy of Boca Raton; Jamie Morris of Fort Lauderdale; and Bailey Blosser of Lake Tahoe, Calif., He had five grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Aug. 25 at First Presbyterian Church, 401 SE 15th Ave., Fort Lauderdale.
Memorials may be made to the Community Foundation of Broward, 910 E. Las Olas Blvd., Suite 200, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.
Anthony Man can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter @browardpolitics and on Post.news/@browardpolitics.