We say goodbye to 2010 and the first decade of the new millennium, remembering the passing of some remarkable locals who helped build and sustain community institutions. Whether guiding a board meeting, entertaining donors or opening their own checkbooks, their leadership and philanthropy changed our neighborhoods for the better. We reflect on just a few this holiday season in hopes that their legacies will inspire us all to strive for further compassion and generosity in 2011.
The Rev. Abe Brown
The Rev. Abraham Brown spread the gospel on the football field, in prison, on the street corners — anywhere he might turn failures into successes. He taught thousands of students and ministered to hundreds of inmates and, beginning in 1993, the congregation of First Baptist Church of College Hill.
At his funeral, his son-in-law said the Rev. Brown compared fighting crime to fighting cancer, which took his life Sept. 11 at age 83. He felt the community should support Abe Brown Ministries' outreach (housing, food and employment services) the way they support cancer research.
After becoming an organ recipient in 2005, Paul Hanna, head of the St. Petersburg College Foundation, took on the chairmanship of the LifeLink Legacy Fund, a position that he held until his death July 22, six days before his 63rd birthday. The former banker was a past president of the American Cancer Society and served on boards for the Florida Orchestra, the Tampa Museum of Art, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. The father of five daughters "paid it forward" again, becoming an organ donor so that others might have the second chance that he had.
When cancer restricted her from physically attending board meetings at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Franci Rudolph participated by conference call. The former director of the Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts could have just mailed a check to support the health, education and Jewish causes she embraced. Instead, she chaired committees, studied bylaws and initiated outreach for a dozen nonprofit organizations, right up until losing her battle with cancer Sept. 18 at age 60.
Her family honors her 23-year involvement with the Straz Center with the Franci Golman Rudolph Endowed Scholarship Fund for Patel Conservatory students.
Joe Stagi used music and his mischievous smile to uplift spirits. Who could be down when Piano Man was around? Not the Grand Court retirement center residents who played in Stagi's kazoo band. The composer, conductor and band leader hit the high notes at charity events on behalf of the New York Yankees, Junior League and the Exchange Club. The musical director of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla was a fixture at the Tampa Yacht Club until his passing Oct. 27 at age 79.
After the funeral, musician pals jammed, with grandson Joey on the piano, at his North Tampa home. The Tampa Community Band, where Mr. Stagi played French horn, dedicated a concert to him.
C. Blythe Andrews Jr.
For decades, C. Blythe Andrews Jr. gave voice to the African-American community as editor-in-chief and publisher of the Florida Sentinel Bulletin. The forum of a twice-weekly newspaper made him an important leader in business and civic causes. He advocated for indigent health care and renaming Buffalo Avenue for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. Andrews died Jan. 12 at age 79.
Mary Ann Scialdo
Carrollwood Cultural Center artistic director Mary Ann Scialdo was directing The Music Man when cancer took her life July 1 at age 67. Often compared to the Energizer bunny, the petite pianist (not much taller than her students) passed her musical passion on to her Broadway Kids, the program she started and her sister now continues.
Ms. Scialdo began playing the piano at age 2, won a scholarship to Juilliard's prep division at 5 and played her first concert in New York at 6. A new group, to be called Mas, which is Spanish for "more," will further her goal of more theater in Tampa.
In the British Royal Navy, Jim Tarbet commanded real men for 25 years. Then he led a mob of pretend pirates for 10 years as executive officer of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. To run the annual invasion, Mr. Tarbet used military and diplomatic skills honed as an aide-de-camp to naval academy classmate Prince Charles.
The Scotsman died Dec. 2 at age 61 esteemed by multiple krewes for revamping the Gasparilla Children's Parade, which many prefer to the bawdy adult version.
Executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs LeRoy Collins, 75, died July 29 after being struck by a sport utility vehicle during an early morning bicycle ride. The retired two-star Navy admiral established the Florida Veterans Foundation and is credited with helping to bring a veterans hospital to Orlando and advocating for veterans returning from Iraq. The son of a former Florida governor, Mr. Collins and his wife, Jane, spend many weekends visiting veterans nursing homes and military cemeteries.
Nan Beytin, one of 14 women who banded together as Tampa's first all-female krewe, Ye Loyal Krewe of Grace O'Malley, died in an automobile accident June 1 at age 56. Members of the sisterhood, now grown to 270 members, hail Ms. Beytin for her unconditional generosity, saying the club's fourth O'Malley, or chieftain, went beyond the krewe's motto, "Fun, friendship and frivolity," to incorporate a fourth focus: community service. She embraced many causes, most notably the Ophelia Project, Tampa AIDS Network, Planned Parenthood and the Children's Home.
George M. Steinbrenner III
What can we add to the accolades Tampa expressed when we lost the Boss on July 13 at age 80? We always knew the gruff exterior was just a bluff. From our perspective, the New York Yankees owner was simply the Man Who Couldn't Say No — to youth, sports, health care, and arts and educational organizations.
Amy Scherzer can be reached at or (813) 226-3332 or email@example.com.