Don Hahnfeldt, Republican lawmaker, former submarine commander, dies unexpectedly – Florida Politics (blog)
Republican state Representative Don Hahnfeldt has died of cancer. He was 73.
Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran confirmed Hahnfeldt’s death Monday afternoon, notifying members “of the passing of our friend and colleague Representative Don Hahnfeldt.”
Corcoran echoed the consensus assessment of Hahnfeldt: that he led an impressive life, which included service as a submarine commander in the U.S. Navy. A biography on his campaign website touted that under Hahnfeldt’s leadership, “a group of nuclear experts confronted the challenge of dealing with radioactive waste disposal from the infamous Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in Russia.”
After a 32-year military career, Hahnfeldt moved to The Villages, the rapidly-growing retirement community located in central Florida. There he served as president of The Villages Homeowners Association, then as a Sumter County commissioner. In 2016, he was elected to the Florida House.
Hahnfeldt represented District 33, which includes Sumter and parts of Lake and Marion counties.
Don Hahnfeldt, far left, along with other House members, is sworn in by Judge Nicholas Thompson, during Organization Session in November 2016.
As a state lawmaker, “he was committed to always doing the right thing for his community and for Florida,” attested his colleague, state Rep. Joe Gruters.
Known as a traditional conservative, Hahnfeldt recently filed legislation to increase the minimum legal age from 18 to 21 to buy cigarettes, tobacco chew and electronic vaping devices and products. He also earned extensive media coverage earlier this year for his proposal to require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets.
“Don was someone who served without wanting anything in return,” remarked state Rep. Randy Fine. “He was unafraid to stand up for his convictions in a world where too many struggle.”
Gov. Rick Scott expressed his condolences to Hahnfeldt’s family via a statement released Monday.