Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Loading...
  1. Romano: The choice does not have to be poverty or gentrification

    Local Government

    The memories must be protected. The music and the lore, too.

    The owner of Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food is refusing to give the city information on the restaurant's sales as required by his contract to occupy the city-owned Manhattan Casino. The information is needed to calculate whether the nonprofit Urban Development Solutions, headed by Larry Newsome, owes the city more than the $3,000 monthly base rent.
  2. Tests show North Korea earthquake not caused by nuclear test

    World

    SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's weather agency said a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday around where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural.

    People watch a TV news program reporting North Korea's earthquake, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. South Korea's weather agency said an earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday around where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural. The signs read " The weather agency said a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was detected in North Korea." [Associated Press]
  3. New 6.2 magnitude earthquake centered in southern Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — The U.S. Geological Survey says the new earthquake to strike Mexico had a magnitude of 6.2 and was centered in the southern state of Oaxaca.

  4. Bucs players respond to Trump comments on anthem protests

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump shared his thoughts Friday night on NFL players protesting during the national anthem, suggesting that NFL owners should "fire" players who kneel during the anthem in protest. His remarks are alreading drawing responses from many NFL players, including some Bucs.

    Bucs players Mike Evans and Jameis Winston stand with coach Dirk Koetter during the national anthem in a game played in San Diego last season.
  5. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018

    Blogs

    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    Catcher Wilson Ramos connects for a two-run single in the fifth inning against the Cubs on Sept. 20, 2017.