Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Profile | Don Wallace

Meet Don Wallace, the man in the big house on Bayshore

Erika and Don Wallace, here at the Gasparilla parade with their son Donnie Jr., have a 13,700-square foot house on Bayshore.

AMY SCHERZER | Times (2002)

Erika and Don Wallace, here at the Gasparilla parade with their son Donnie Jr., have a 13,700-square foot house on Bayshore.

Don Wallace and his family started Lazydays RV SuperCenter in 1976 with $500, a mobile home and two travel trailers. Now, Lazydays, on Interstate 4 east of Tampa, boasts annual sales of $800-million. Wallace, now 59, sold portions of the business in 1999 and 2004 but remains a primary stockholder.

Family: Wife, Erika, 34; two children, Donnie, 9, and Alexa, 7. When Wallace met Erika Jensen, she was his then-wife's niece. The two married in 1995. She was 21; he was 46.

Homes: Hyde Park neighbors fumed when Wallace bought and demolished the historic Swann House on Bayshore Boulevard, then replaced it with a 13,700-plus square foot Mediterranean-style mansion with a gym, wall-sized aquariums and air-conditioned garages for six autos. Erika got a 22-foot by 12-foot closet. Last year's property taxes: $177,113.

In 2007, Wallace bought a sprawling property on Lake Thonotosassa for their next home, expected to be more than 40,000 square feet. The property adjoins the residence of Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and lawyer Bill McBride.

Other properties include a place on an island in Key West harbor and a restored firehouse in Hyde Park.

Parties: Routinely, the Wallaces open their Bayshore home to charity fundraisers, picking up the tab for food, drinks, flowers and valet parking. The family's annual Gasparilla Day party draws 400 people, a coveted invitation. Partygoers gravitate to his exotic car collection.

Big wheels: The rides in Wallace's garages have included Bentley, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Porsche, McLaren F1, Enzo, Ferrari and Veyron.

Pet causes: Health care, education and the arts. The Wallaces gave $5-million to the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute for breast cancer research. They gave more than $1-million to build the Gorrie Coliseum at Gorrie Elementary School. Other beneficiaries: Tampa General Hospital, the University of Tampa, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Joshua House, the Spring of Tampa Bay and the Lowry Park Zoo, among many.

Sightings: Frequents Mise en Place and SideBern's.

Politics: Doesn't consider himself political, but contributes to campaigns on both sides of the aisle. In the 2006 Florida gubernatorial race, he gave $500 to Democrat Jim Davis and $500 to Republican Charlie Crist. For the 2002 election, he contributed both to Jeb Bush and opponent Bill McBride. That year, he also gave $40,000 to the Republican Party of Florida.

Health: Suffers chronic back pain but doesn't like to talk about it.

Friends call him: Generous, sentimental, trusting, down to earth.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Meet Don Wallace, the man in the big house on Bayshore 06/11/08 [Last modified: Saturday, June 14, 2008 11:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the third hole during the final round at the Hero World Challenge golf tournament in Nassau, Bahamas. Woods has been arrested on a drunken driving charge in Palm Beach County , various media outlets are reporting. [AP photo]
  2. Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge in Florida

    Public Safety

    Tiger Woods was arrested on a DUI charge Monday in Jupiter, according to the Palm Beach County sheriff's office.

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a DUI charge in Florida.
  3. Boy, 9, hospitalized after shooting in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — A 9-year-old boy was injured Monday morning in a shooting in the 2300 block of 17th Ave S, police said.

    A juvenile was injured in a shooting Monday morning in the 2300 block of 17th Ave S in St. Petersburg. (Zachary Sampson, Tampa Bay Times)
  4. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  5. How Hollywood is giving its biggest stars digital facelifts


    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp is 53 years old but he doesn't look a day over 26 in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie — at least for a few moments. There was no plastic surgeon involved, heavy makeup or archival footage used to take the actor back to his boyish "Cry Baby" face, however. It's all …

    This combination of photos released by Disney, shows the character Jack Sparrow at two stages of his life in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."  Johnny Depp, who portrays the character, is the latest mega-star to get the drastic de-aging treatment on screen
[Disney via Associated Press]