Man who flew Confederate flag near intersection of two Florida interstates found dead

TAMPA, Fla. — Marion Lambert, who flew a giant Confederate flag that has overlooked the intersection of two interstate highways in Florida for a dozen years, died Wednesday, his daughter said. He was 73.

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Lambert died after he was involved in an accident on his Tampa farm, his daughter, Blue Ayala, told the Tampa Bay Times. His death was first reported by WFLA, and authorities said they did not suspect foul play.

Ayala said the family believes Lambert was injured by a bull named Levy on his farm at about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, the Times reported. She said surveillance cameras captured Lambert walking to a neighbor’s house to get help, but he collapsed in his driveway, according to the newspaper. Another neighbor spotted Lambert on the ground and called 911.

Lambert owned property near the junction of Interstate 4 and Interstate 75. The 30-foot by 50-foot battle flag was among one of several Confederate flags that have fluttered above the busy roadways since 2008. The Stars and Bars flag and the Confederate flag used by the state of Florida during the Civil War have also flown at the site.

>> Huge Confederate flag overlooking Tampa interstate highways taken down

The flag, the second largest of its kind in the world, is situated in Confederate Memorial Park, a small parcel of land on U.S. 92 where a 139-foot pole was erected in 2008, the Times reported. A flag in Virginia was erected in 2017, according to The Associated Press.

Marion Lambert bought the land in 2004, and got permits from Hillsborough County to build a park to honor “American veterans.”

“They never asked me jack,” Lambert told the Times in 2008.

Lambert and others raised $250,000 in donations and labor to erect granite slabs engraved with soldiers’ names, according to the AP.

In June, Lambert took the flags down temporarily in the wake of the George Floyd protests after people on social media threatened to set it on fire.

At the time, David McCallister, head of the chapter that oversees the memorial, said his organization chose to take down the flag to avoid potential vandalism, WTSP reported. The flag had been lowered before when hurricanes threatened the Tampa area, but last summer was the first time the flag had been lowered because of threats.

Lambert, a Pensacola native, completed work for a master’s degree in psychology when he was 24, but he never wrote his thesis. Instead, he climbed into his truck and drove toward Tampa, the Times reported in 2018. Lambert bought his farm in 1974.

Along with farming, Lambert had a passion for Southern history, which led to his flying the flag from the land near the interstates.

“Am I sorry I put up the flag where I put it up? Not at all,” Lambert told the AP in 2017. “I enjoyed waking up the mind of the public.”

It is unclear what will happen to the land that houses the flags.