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Prominent Naples attorney, FL Senate president’s husband dies at 72 from fall

John Passidomo is survived by his wife, three daughters and two grandchildren.

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 8:30 a.m. April 4, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
John Passidomo started practicing law in Collier County in 1979.
John Passidomo started practicing law in Collier County in 1979.
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Longtime Collier County attorney and Naples civic leader John Passidomo, husband of Florida State Sen. President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, died Wednesday after injuries suffered from a fall while hiking in Utah. 

John Passidomo was 72. 

The news was announced late Wednesday afternoon in a statement from Senate President Pro Tempore Dennis Baxley, R-Lady Lake. The couple — law school sweethearts, they got married in 1979, the same year John Passidomo started practicing law in Collier County — was hiking in Utah Monday when John fell. He suffered massive trauma to his head, among other serious injuries, Baxley’s memo states. He was transported from the trail by ambulance to a local hospital and shortly thereafter by air to a regional trauma center.

Other Passidomo family members were able to travel to Utah, the memo states, and the Senate president and the couple’s three daughters — Catarina, Francesca and Gabriella — were by his side when he died Wednesday afternoon. The couple, Baxley says, was “looking forward to celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary in September. The trip to visit several national parks in Utah was one of many great adventures they shared during five decades together. Their last few days together were marked by many special moments, beautiful scenery and wonderful reflections on their lifetime together and plans to live out their golden years watching their grandchildren grow up.”

Passidomo earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Boston College and a law degree from Stetson University College of Law. From 1985 to 1993, Passidomo was partner in charge of Florida real estate matters for Frost & Jacobs, according to the bio on the website of his current firm, Cheffy Passidomo. He’s a former president of the Collier County Bar Association and a former chairman of its Real Estate Attorneys’ Section.  

Kathleen and John Passidomo in Tallahassee.
Courtesy image

The cases he handled in his practice included real estate development and transactions and zoning and land use matters, that, the bio states “require experience, tenacity and political sensitivity.” He was awarded the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for leadership in providing pro bono legal services to the poor in 1985 and 1991. And in 2019 he received the Donald E. Van Koughnet “Lion of the Law” Award for Professionalism from the Collier County Judiciary.

Passidomo also made a mark on Collier County outside the law. His roles and accolades include:

  • Vice mayor of the city of Naples and as a member of the Naples City Council from 1990 to 1992.
  • Member of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (Collier County) from 1990 to 1992.
  • Chairman and member of the Naples Planning Advisory Board from 1986 to 1990.
  • Chairman of the Economic Development Council of Collier County from 1995 to 1997.
  • Chairman of the Community Foundation of Collier County from 1998 to 2001.
  • Graduate of Leadership Collier, Leadership Southwest Florida and Leadership Florida.
  • Named the Outstanding Collier County Citizen by the Naples Daily News in 2000 
  • With law partner Ed Cheffy, named Laureates in the Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida Business Leadership Hall of Fame in 2003

Kathleen Passidomo was elected to the Florida House in 2010 and the state Senate in 2016. She was the Senate majority leader from 2018-2020 and Senate president from 2022-2024. Addressing doctor and health care workforce shortages, part of a larger health care package, was one of her recent Senate priorities. 

The memo from Baxley notes that John Passidomo was an organ donor, and several matches were found late Wednesday night. “The President and her family are taking comfort in the fact their great loss has resulted in a life-saving gift for other families,” the memo states. 

“The President has lost the love of her life,” Baxley’s note adds, “and is absolutely devastated by this sudden and unexpected accident.”



Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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