Mary Jane Park, Times Staff Writer

Mary Jane Park is a general assignment reporter and writes about south Pinellas County charitable and social events. She is editor of Bay, a bimonthly Tampa Bay Times magazine for select subscribers in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Mary Jane has been an editor in news and features. She came to the Times in 1983 from the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. Before that, she was a reporter and editor for her hometown newspaper, the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. She has a bachelor's degree in political science from Appalachian State University.

Mary Jane lives in St. Petersburg. She enjoys cooking, music, reading and traveling.

Phone: (727) 893-8267



  1. William LaTorre's wife, friends left wondering why after suicide (w/video)


    GULFPORT — Dr. William LaTorre had ordered stone crab claws for their anniversary dinner on Thursday, "which is our tradition," Wendy LaTorre said.

    "Just the two of us. After 38 years, that's what you do."

    She left for the gym before sunrise, as is her custom. When she returned home, his car was gone. As usual.

    "It was that normal a day," she said. "My anniversary cards were sitting on the table."...

    Wendy LaTorre said pictures from recent parties all showed her husband laughing. They were together for 38 years.
  2. Spirited BrewHaHa gala helps children with cancer

    Human Interest

    BrewHaHa is Saturday

    BrewHaHa, a Halloween-themed extravaganza that includes food, fire cannons, psychic readers, costume contests, music and more, this year benefits the 1Voice Foundation to help children who have cancer. The party starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Rutland-Farley estate, 5030 Sunrise Drive S, St. Petersburg. $100.; (813) 787-3042.

    Academy Prep benefit...

  3. PARC fundraiser honors 13 'Magnetic Men'

    Human Interest

    'Magnetic Men' in the spotlight

    The annual PARC black-tie fundraiser on Saturday will pay tribute to 13 "Magnetic Men" in the community. The Sapphire Ball runs from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort, 501 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $175. parc-fl-org; (727) 341-6962.

    Costumes, cocktails at Dalí

    "Suenos de Dalí (Dreams of Dalí ): From Barcelona to Paris, a 1920s Bohemian Soiree," connects artists Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso to the two cities starting at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Dalí Museum, 1 Dalí Blvd., St. Petersburg. The costume party is hosted by the Dalí Museum Guild and will feature craft cocktails, food tastings, gallery access and entertainment. $125 members, $150 all others.; (727) 623-4770....

  4. Food drive, luncheon benefit St. Petersburg Free Clinic

    Human Interest


    "Soup's On," the annual luncheon fundraiser for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, raised more than $91,000 and took in 4,600 pounds — more than 2 tons — at the St. Petersburg Coliseum.

    The event drew about 500 patrons, who brought nonperishable food and toiletries for people in need. Men from Beacon House, the clinic's men's shelter, prepared soup for the meal....

    From left are St. Petersburg Free Clinic board of directors chairman Tim Coop, Publix District 17 manager Jeffrey Stilwell, Publix Disston Plaza assistant store manager Will McKenzie and St. Petersburg Free Clinic executive director Beth Houghton.
  5. Dancing With the Stars competition benefits charities

    Human Interest

    Dancing With the Stars benefit

    Tampa Bay's Dancing With the Stars, which benefits Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg, Angels Against Abuse, Housing & Education Alliance, Pepin Academies, Relay for Life, the Kind Mouse and Voices for Children, and Julie Weintraub's Hands Across the Bay, runs from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday at TPepin Hospitality Centre, 4121 N 50th St., Tampa. The event is presented by Hands Across the Bay. $250.; (727) 573-9351....

  6. Garden party benefits Great Explorations Children's Museum

    Human Interest


    The grounds were too sodden for lawn games and the synchronized swimmers were unable to put in a full performance, but the show did go on at "Great Extravaganza: The Garden Party," the 1920s-themed bash for Great Explorations Children's Museum.

    Development director Beatriz Maxson said about 300 guests gathered under a big tent set up on the grounds at the Rutland-Farley estate, where hosts Michele and Phil Farley invited the crowd indoors for the auction fundraising portion of the evening after the weekend storm brought steady rain....

    From left: Simone, Silvia, Dan and Nico Leeper attend Great Extravaganza: The Garden Party, a fundraiser for Great Explorations Children’s Museum that Silvia and Dan co-chaired.
  7. Hall of Famer Brooks urges community involvement

    Human Interest

    Sept. 6, 2014

    Freshly inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, onetime Tampa Bay Buccaneer Derrick Brooks was the keynote speaker at the Pinellas County Urban League's annual Equal Opportunity Day gala.

    More than 500 guests attended the dinner at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park, where the former linebacker encouraged investing in children and community service....

    Model Nga Tran and event chairman John William Barger III auction a print at Swanky Soiree V on Sept. 18.
  8. Daystar Life Center event features thrift shop fashions

    Human Interest

    Social datebook

    Support Daystar Life Center

    Daystar Life Center presents "Fashion Fling," a fundraising luncheon featuring clothing from Daystar Thrift Shoppe in St. Petersburg, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, 1600 54th Ave. S. $25. (727) 498-8794.

    Great Explorations fundraiser

    "Great Extravaganza," the annual fundraiser for Great Explorations, the children's museum, has a 1920s garden party theme Saturday at the Rutland-Farley estate, 5030 Sunrise Drive S, St. Petersburg. The event begins with a VIP sunset reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and continues from 7 to 11 p.m. with cocktails, dinner, vintage lawn games, entertainment and dancing. $150 VIP, $100 general admission.; (727) 821-8992....

  9. 'Eat Rich, Play Dirty' benefits Morean Arts Center

    Human Interest

    A creative evening

    Participants get hands-on opportunities at creating with clay on Saturday at "Eat Rich, Play Dirty," the major fundraiser for the Morean Arts Center. The event takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Morean Center for Clay, 420 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg. $100; $50 persons younger than 40. morean; (727) 822-7872.

    Mastry to be honored at gala...

  10. From This Day: Jaclyn Raulerson and Jarod Dicks


    As youngsters living in a tight-knit community, Jaclyn Raulerson and Jarod Dicks certainly knew each other.

    "Growing up, we were on the same swim team together," Jaclyn said. "He was always part of the cool, older crowd. Our parents have been friends for a very long time."

    Their fathers had both served as mayor of Plant City, and the adults kept in touch.

    "We both have our parents to thank for our marriage," she said. "If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have met."...

    Jarod Winfield Dicks and Jaclyn Frances Raulerson, who grew up in Plant City, were married on May 25 in Savannah, Ga.
  11. Social datebook for Sept. 12: Ball to benefit the hungry


    Glitter Queens' ball to benefit the hungry

    The St. Pete Glitter Queens will host its third annual Royal Ball from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Gulfport Casino, 5500 Shore Blvd. S. The event benefits the Kind Mouse Productions, which feeds chronically hungry people in Pinellas County. The evening will include dinner, entertainment, music and dancing. $50.

    'Swanky Soiree V' coming to Mahaffey...

  12. Social Calendar 2014-15: A new season of giving


    By Mary Jane Park

    Times Staff Writer

    If Labor Day marks the unofficial beginning of fall, it also means a new season of fundraising for good causes. On Sept. 5, the St. Pete Times publishes the 18th annual Social Calendar, a list targeted chiefly to south Pinellas County.

    Building awareness is an important component of any successful marketing plan. Just like their cousins in the business world, savvy charitable organizations increasingly turn to social media to promote their messages and fundraising events. Most have websites and portals through which donors can contribute online, and many use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and smartphone apps....

  13. From This Day: American Sign Language a big part of the big day


    Throughout the wedding, people signed "I love you," even friends and family members who were unable to attend the May 31 ceremony at St. Petersburg's Isla Del Sol Yacht and Country Club.

    Jessica Hunt and Shawn Fitchko created an email account for the occasion, and friends near and far sent photos of themselves using the American Sign Language gesture.

    By the time the festivities were over, there was a completed video presentation that included them all....

    Jessica Hunt and Shawn Fitchko and members of their wedding party use the American Sign Language expression for “I love you.”
  14. YWCA honors St. Petersburg deputy mayor

    Human Interest


    The silent-auction tables held enough handbags to accessorize quite a few guests at "Purses & Passion," the annual fundraiser for the YWCA of Tampa Bay, held in the ballroom at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park.

    A stylish group of several hundred patrons at the luncheon honored Kanika Tomalin, deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and the event's 2014 Woman of Distinction, who thanked members of her family for inspiring her. Her mother, Yvonne Jelks, she said, is "the most selfless woman in the world." Her father, David Jelks, embodies "unparalleled commitment." Of husband Terry Tomalin, she said: "He is love."...

    YWCA chief executive Lenice Emanuel, left, with board members Maria Rawls, Roslyn Graham and Shameka Jones.
  15. Hospice fundraiser features casino games

    Human Interest

    Journey to Atlantis helps Hospice affiliate

    "Destination Atlantis," a fundraiser for Project GRACE, a Suncoast Hospice affiliate, will feature food, casino games and entertainment from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday at the Suncoast Hospice Gathering Place, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd., Clearwater. Proceeds go to advance care planning programs and services. Cocktail or themed attire suggested. $50 advance, $60 at the door. (727) 523-3419....