Harold Leon Sebring Jr., known as “Tom” by his friends, died on January 20, 2019 after a courageous battle with cancer. Tom was 89. He was born on September 14, 1929 in Gainesville, Florida to Justice Harold L. Sebring and Elise Bishop Sebring. His early years were spent in Gainesville and he later attended Sewanee Military Academy, where he became the Mid-South Boxing Champion. After graduation from Leon High School in Tallahassee, he attended the University of Florida and later graduated from Florida State University. When asked about the transfer from one college to its rival college, Tom would proclaim, “I left under suspicious circumstances”. He had a very special gift for making people laugh. He was also an avid sportsman who had a passion for hunting and fishing. He was considered by many to be the best “shot“ they had ever seen with a shotgun.
Tom’s next adventures took him to the Florida Keys, where he remained for many years taking part in fishing tournaments, spear fishing, writing poetry and further perfecting the art of storytelling. He was a regular at The Islamorada Fishing Club and Cheeca Lodge. Tom was the closest thing to Ernest Hemingway…well, since Ernest Hemingway.
After some years in the bond business, having enjoyed the Keys and with a multitude of African safaris under his belt, Tom pursued his love for shooting and began competing in “Sporting Clays”. It became evident this was his true calling. He quickly found success as he engaged in this sport. He traveled the world with his longtime companion, Bettie Bedell, collecting medals along the way. Bettie caught Tom’s eye in high school and they rekindled later in life; a union that lasted over 30 years until his death.
Tom was the first American to win a gold medal in the European FITASC Championships. The story goes, it was customary for the gold medalist to stand on the podium while his home country‘s National Anthem was played. Tom’s victory was such a surprise to the Europeans, the tournament officials could not find a copy of the US National Anthem. Tom also won the USSCA National Sporting Clays Championship, among countless other championships both local and abroad.
Tom made many friends on his journeys and filled their lives with much laughter. He will be very missed.
He is survived by his son Harold Leon “Tripp“ Sebring, III, his daughter in law, Deanie Sebring and his granddaughter Katherine Marie “Katie” Sebring.
A memorial service will be held in Tom’s honor at 11am on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 100 NE 1st St., Gainesville, FL 32601. There will be lunch reception following the service in the Holy Trinity Parrish Hall.