TAMPA, Fla. — A former Hillsborough County judge is being remembered after her sudden death on Christmas Eve.

  • Former Judge Tracy Sheehan, 60, died suddenly on Christmas Eve
  • Sheehan was a Hillsborough Co. judge for 11 years
  • Friend of Sheehan said the former judge had a big heart

Tracy Sheehan was a Hillsborough County judge for 11 years. She was an advocate for children and made her mark in the Tampa bay area. She died suddenly on Christmas Eve at her cabin in Georgia.  She was just 60 years old.

Through tears, Sheehan’s friend of 30 years, Wendy Latorre, shared some memories with us that made her laugh and some that made her cry.

“My husband always had a Harley,” Latorre said. “He rode a Harley and Tracy decided that we needed to drive our own. We didn’t need to be riding on anybody’s Harley.”

Latorre said thinking of those memories is bringing her comfort after learning her best friend passed away.

“Shocking. I talked to her on Monday several times. We had just done a trip to san Miguel de Allende in Mexico to celebrate both of our birthdays. That was the beginning of September, the end of October, and she had bought the cabin a week before we left,” she said.

Sheehan’s unexpected death is shining a light on all she touched. An attorney shared a memory online about how as an intern Sheehan took him under her wing and became his mentor.

“Her kindness, her compassion, her dedication to children and animals,” Latorre said. “She was a really, really good person. She had a huge heart.”

And Latorre said Sheehan’s huge heart is reflected in her reputation on bench.

“Oh my gosh, there have been so many people saying she was such a fair and compassionate judge,” Latorre said. “She always wanted to find the best option. She didn’t automatically put the first offender in jail. If there was a better option and it would give them a better chance at life, she was going to find that out.”

We’re told one of the first people to learn about Sheehan’s death was Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

Castor released this statement: “Tracy did everything with passion and determination, living life on her own terms. Her commitment to helping children in need was unparalleled and positively impacted so many lives in our community. She fit more life into her years than most could ever imagine and will be missed by so many. A true friend with a huge heart.”​