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Artist Bill 'Woo' Correira Recalled as 'Creative,' 'Generous Soul'

Beloved St. Pete artist Bill "Woo" Correira died inside his art gallery on Central Avenue Monday. He had been battling brain cancer.

Local artist Bill "Woo" Correira knew better than to worry about what people thought or if things did not go exactly as planned.

Why should he? 

After surviving a brush with death in 2007, the artist gained an appreciation for living in the moment and fully engaging in his work as a painter.

In 2007, on Thanksgiving Day, Correira was diagnosed with brain cancer and languished for 49 days in a coma.

But he survived, and later realized his dream of owning a St. Petersburg gallery, where he focused on painting marine animals.

On Monday night, Correira died inside his art gallery at 689 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg.

Tuesday dozens of family, friends and fellow artists stopped by his gallery to remember and honor the man that offered support and a generous heart to anyone in need. 

Frank Strunk III is a local metal artist who knew Woo for six years. 

"It’s kind of unreal that he died being that we are close to the same age," Strunk said. "I just saw him on Saturday." 

Strunk said Correira was a man who went the extra mile for his friends, a mentor and an inspiration.

"He was counseling me on a piece I was making. He is kind of the master when it comes to fish and I am making my first metal fish," Strunk said. "Everyone loved him, really generous guy.

"For as talented as he is, he’s not the least bit pretentious. He never came off at arrogant," Strunk added. "He was a good guy, generous soul. Creative. Kind of an unstoppable force in our creative community. It’s just an awful thing he died so young."

Artist Adam Butler said he did not know Correira for very long, but "Woo" made a lasting impression. He said Correira pushed him to become a better artist.

"He used to just push me to paint," Butler said. "I could not envision myself with a gallery. He showed me one day someone’s gallery and said I could do this. He said I could make a living as an artist."

Fellow artist on the 600 block Derek Donnelly is creating a mural of Correira behind his building. He said the final unveiling of the mural will be on Dec. 8, and he wants the public who loved Correira to be part of it. 

"We are going to have everyone in the community do handprint coral and aquatic life surrounding him," Donnelly wrote on Facebook.

Donnelly said anyone wishing to donate paint or supplies may drop them off at Saint Paint, located at 6 6th St. N. 

A memorial page was created on Facebook to honor Correira. 

"The Central Avenue 600 Block is trying to raise funds for a bronze bust of Woo, being created by a good friend James Olson," according to the page. "This bust will be placed in front of his Gallery on Central Avenue. Any donations would help immensely. We will keep you up to date on where to donate. We miss and love you, Woo!"

Cortney Frederick said Correira was a regular at Sake Bomb and when he was there, she said she could always seek him out for advice. 

Frederick said she saw him just a few hours before he passed away Monday. 

"He was a confidante. I could talk to him about anything," she said. "He’s very encouraging. I just signed up for school (Monday) and he was telling me how proud he was of me.

"He was a survivor because he’s been battling brain cancer for a while. He was strong and it didn’t let it slow him down," Frederick added. "He wanted to be there for people. He wanted to put himself aside and be there for them." 

Liz McGonigle November 28, 2012 at 02:53 PM
We will all miss Woo very much, he was the sweetest man and such a kind soul.
Dharma November 28, 2012 at 02:57 PM
interesting what he said in his video. that is information i hope might change now... envy is indeed like crabs in a bucket... RIP
Eric Audit November 29, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Woo had the ability to look into the eyes of a fish,cature their soul and transfer it to a canvas.. R.I.P.

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