Former state Rep. Beverly Burnsed Spencer, who represented a Lakeland district, died Nov. 28 in Tallahassee. She was 78. She spent 35 years working for the state as a teacher, state legislator, assistant secretary of state and university vice president.

As Beverly Burnsed, she represented a Lakeland district as a Democrat from 1976 to 1988  and was among the first women to chair major committees in the Florida House.

 In 1980, she received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Flagler College.

After the Legislature, she became assistant secretary of state and changed her party registration to Republican. 

She later became vice president for university affairs at her alma mater, Florida State University, serving for 11 years. She noted at the time that her experiences had helped in explaining the history of the Legislature and government to new administrators and to government leaders.

Years later, Spencer said the Legislature had changed from its traditional deep studies of the issues to looking simply at the surface. “There seems to be much more pre-set legislation,” she said. “There is not the in-depth look, especially at budget items, anymore.”

Clerk of the Florida House, Jeff Takacs said a celebration of life will be held on Dec. 13 at 1 p.m., at the Episcopal Church of the Advent, 815 Piedmont Drive, Tallahassee.

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