William H. Harrell Jr., founder of the Jacksonville law firm of Harrell &Harrell, died of cancer Saturday at his home in Jacksonville. He was 70.
Harrell, a trial attorney with a long and varied client list, was easily recognized around town because of his firm's extensive use of television and billboard ads bearing his image.
But he was also known for his firm's support of community causes such as Duval County's guardian ad litem program and medical charities.
"He's certainly been a leader in our community," said Tad Delegal, president of the Jacksonville Bar Association. He said Harrell encouraged attorneys in his own firm and elsewhere to be involved in civic issues they cared about, as well as legal topics.
"He built a substantial legacy," Delegal said.
Harrell was born in Lake City and entered the University of Florida, but left and enlisted in the Army. He returned to school after completing his military service and earned a bachelor's degree from UF in business administration.
He became a sheriff's deputy in Alachua County and worked his way through UF's law school, passing the bar exam in 1974.
He opened a law firm in Melbourne, but moved to Jacksonville in 1991 to be closer to his parents and sister.
With attorney Greg Johnson, he opened the firm Harrell &Johnson in 1996, becoming Harrell &Harrell when Johnson retired in 2005.
The firm has 18 attorneys now.
The second Harrell in the company name was Renee Daigle Harrell, Harrell's second wife, who is the firm's president and works there with three of Harrell's four children.
"We are an incredibly close family and will continue to work together," said W. Holt Harrell, Harrell's son. An attorney since 2002 and a partner in the firm ? one sister is a partner too, and another with an MBA is the firm's administration director ? he said he counted his time at the firm as a blessing and said he had learned from his father's example.
"I was always proud of the way my father took a stand for whatever he believed in," Holt Harrell said.
Harrell had been active in Shriner and Masonic groups, as well as Mensa, and had been involved professionally with the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, now called the Florida Justice Association.
In addition to his wife and son, both of Jacksonville, Harrell is survived by three daughters, Julie Harrell and Kimberly Chapman of Jacksonville, and Susan Harrell of Bend, Ore.; five grandchildren; and his sister, federal appellate judge Susan Black of Jacksonville.