Bishop William Thomas Larkin, who headed the Diocese of St. Petersburg, from 1979 to 1988, died Nov. 4, after a long battle with leukemia; he was 83.
As the spiritual pastor of 300,000 Catholics, Bishop Larkin oversaw the addition of 19 new parishes and the establishment of diocesan offices for Hispanics, African Americans and the disabled. He also oversaw the creation of WBVM-FM, a Catholic radio station.
Raised in Mount Morris, N.Y., he moved to Daytona Beach for his first priestly assignment after his priestly ordination in 1947.
Soon after, he went to Rome to study for a doctorate in sacred theology and was a roommate with Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope, reported The Associated Press. The two men became friends and Larkin offered Wojtyla some English tutoring.
Bishop Larkin will be remembered as a man who was "deeply devoted" to his fellow priests, said the current bishop, Bishop Robert Lynch, in a statement reported by The Florida Catholic.
The current bishop said Bishop Larkin was for him “a wise counselor and friend.”
"His greatest gift to the diocese was the gift of his own person,” Msgr. Brendan Muldoon, a vicar general for the diocese, told The Florida Catholic. “He was a man of prayer. He was a very humble person. He was a very caring person, a very kind person," he recalled.