Walter “Skip” Campbell. Photo: Aixa Montero Holt/ALM.

Coral Springs Mayor and renowned trial lawyer Walter “Skip” Campbell, a former Florida senator, has died at age 69.

Campbell has been with Fort Lauderdale civil litigation firm Krupnick Campbell Malone Buser Slama Hancock Liberman since 1975, when he and colleague Jon Krupnik first joined forces.

According to news reports, Campbell had recently undergone a hip replacement and taken time off to recover.

“Although I am unable to physically attend meetings and events in the near future, I plan to remain fully-engaged in city operations via phone and email,” he told Coral Springs Talk at the time.

Campbell was elected mayor of Coral Springs in 2014 and reelected in 2016. He also represented Florida in the Senate between 1996 and 2006.

“Everybody knew that if you were friends with Skip you didn’t call him Walter,” said Scott S. Liberman, who’s been with Campbell’s firm for 26 years and described him “an icon of the legal profession in Florida.”

 

‘If We Don’t Help Them, Nobody Will’

According to Liberman, Campbell’s single focus was “always trying to help people.”

Early in Liberman’s career, Campbell taught him a valuable lesson. The case involved the grandmother of a neurologically impaired young girl, whose law firm had withdrawn, leaving the family to look for a new lawyer. It was a medical malpractice case — complicated, messy and seven years in.

“It’s a daunting task to take over seven years of somebody else’s work product,” Liberman said. “And I asked Skip what he wanted to do and whether he thought we should get involved with a case like that. He told me, ‘We’re going to get involved, because if we don’t help them, nobody will.’ He practiced law for the right reasons.”

Campbell’s attitude taught Liberman that “sometimes you just have to do the right thing, for the right reasons, for the right people, and dedicate yourself to that goal and not worry about other extraneous stuff.”

In the courtroom, Campbell was the most “comfortable” trial lawyer Liberman’s ever seen.

“In front of a jury, in front of judges, with the witnesses, he was just a natural,” Liberman said.

Krupnick Campbell attorney Kelley Stewart said, ”(Campbell) found it hard to ever turn anyone away in need of help,” and recalled hearing him tell a client, “It’s not always about the money.”

“What really made him special was the way he treated everybody,” said Joseph J. Slama, another of Campbell’s colleagues. ”When you’re in trial law you can make a lot of enemies, and he truly had none.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CBS Miami, “We lost one of the giants of justice and public service last night.”

Coral Springs City Manager Michael Goodrum also released a statement, saying, “While his professional accomplishments should be applauded, it is the family that he raised in Coral Springs that Skip treasured most.”

Campbell obtained his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Florida in 1970 and 1973.

He’s also worked as an adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, served as a review editor for Matthew Bender Publishing Co., and hosted a television show called “You and the Law.”

Coral Springs City Hall will host a wake for Campbell between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 26, and his funeral will be held Oct. 27 at 11 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Coral Springs.