TAMPA — Debbie King isn’t used to keeping secrets from her husband.
So it wasn’t easy to spend two months hiding from Guy King III that he was to receive Tampa Metro Civitan’s 2018 Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award at Thursday’s Governor’s Day Luncheon.
Until it’s announced, the identity of Tampa Metro Civitan’s prestigious annual award is a carefully guarded secret. Debbie King didn’t want this year to be a repeat of 1930 or 1938 — years when Tampa Metro Civitan decided not to hand out the award because the winner was leaked early.
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The Tampa chapter of the international community service group has handed out the award annually since 1927 to citizens who show “unselfish commitment of time, talent and energy for the betterment of the y.” Past winners include George Steinbrenner and Derrick Brooks.
But if Guy King was to accept his award, he’d have to make it to the luncheon, held at the Florida State Fairgrounds, under somewhat false pretenses. Debbie King and her son, Guy King IV — “we can’t think of any new names,” his father cracked at the ceremony — had to tell King III that a friend of the family had won the award.
The father bought it. Even as introductory speaker and 2008 winner Tom Touchton began to lay out the biography of the 2018 winner, Guy King III struggled to realize that the life being described was his.
“I am really surprised. I was listening to the description of this guy, and I was going, gosh, he sure is busy,” King said after accepting the award before a packed audience that included his family, several past winners, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida cabinet.
The 69-year-old King has indeed been busy. He won the award after decades of work with a laundry list of charitable organizations. He’s an insurance man by trade, but he also works with the local YMCA; he helped found the Tampa-Hillsborough Homeless Initiative; he’s on the board at the wellness nonprofit Gracepoint and he’s served as chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
The list goes on.
“He thinks of everybody else first,” Debbie King said of her husband.
He had a different explanation for how he won the award.
“I’m an insurance agent that doesn’t drink and doesn’t play golf,” King said. “So I’ve got a lot of time on my hands.”
Contact Kirby Wilson at [email protected] or (727) 893-8793. Follow @kirbywtweets.