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. Plan your weekend July 28-30: Comic Con, Lady Antebellum, Margarita Wars, Tampa's Fourth Friday

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Geek out

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The fan convention returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, bringing actors Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt. Uhura), Khary Payton (Ezekiel in The Walking Dead) and the …

    Ibri Day poses for a photo at opening day of the 2015 Tampa Bay Comic Con at the Tampa Convention Center. (Friday, July 31, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Editorial: Trump assaults rule of law by attacking attorney general

    Editorials

    Jeff Sessions was a terrible choice for attorney general, and the policies he has pursued in his brief tenure — cracking down on immigrants, bullying sheriffs, prosecuting low-level offenders to the max — are counterproductive. But the stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Sessions this …

    The stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Attorney General Jess Sessions this week assault the integrity of the Department of Justice and the rule of law.
  3. Iowa group sues United over death of giant rabbit, Simon

    Nation

    DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of Iowa businessmen filed a lawsuit Wednesday against United Airlines over the death of Simon, a giant rabbit whose lifeless body was discovered in a kennel after a flight from London to Chicago.

    In this May 8, 2017 file photo, attorney Guy Cook speaks a news conference while looking at a photo of Simon, a giant rabbit that died after flying from the United Kingdom to Chicago, in Des Moines, Iowa. A group of Iowa businessmen have filed a lawsuit against United Airlines over the death of Simon. The businessmen filed the lawsuit Wednesday, July 26, 2017, more than three months after airline workers found the continental rabbit named Simon dead. [AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall]
  4. Elderly Brooksville woman dies in Wednesday crash

    Accidents

    BROOKSVILLE — An 87-year-old woman died following a Wednesday morning car crash, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  5. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains

    Banking

    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]