Former Pinellas County Sheriff Gerard A. "Gerry" Coleman died Tuesday at the age of 78, the sheriff's office announced Wednesday.

Coleman, who served as sheriff from 1981 to 1989, died of natural causes, the sheriff's office said. Coleman served with the agency from 1960 to 1989, starting as a patrol deputy. He became a detective and worked his way up the ranks to lieutenant before serving as sheriff.

In a statement, the sheriff''s office listed among the accomplishments during his tenure the establishment of the agency's first internal affairs unit and victim advocate program, and said he was instrumental in bringing the 911 Center to the sheriff’s office in the 1980s and improving the correctional facility.

Coleman was survived by his wife Barbara, sons Kevin (Christie), Stephan (Leslie) and Frank (Katie); brother Frank (Esmeralda); grandchildren Delaney and Jack and many niece and nephews.

Viewing and Prayer Service will be Friday at 6 p.m. at David Gross Funeral Service, 830 N Belcher Road, Clearwater. Funeral services will be Saturday at St. Cecelia Catholic Church, 820 Jasmine Way, Clearwater, with burial to follow at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, 5233 118th Ave. N., Clearwater, FL 33760

The family asks in lieu of flowers please send donations to the Florida Sheriff Youth Ranch in memory of Sheriff Coleman,