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Arts patron Helen James Minck, wife of Raymond James founder, dies at 91

Published Jan. 7, 2012

CLEARWATER — In 91 years of life, Helen James Minck did nearly everything well.

She majored in physics at Wellesley College, one of only two women to do so. She danced like a pro, won golf championships, painted and played classical piano. She read books at lightning speed, showed off her form on water skis and hooked tarpon in the Keys, all the while cultivating a deep appreciation of art, literature and music.

After the death of her first husband, Raymond James Financial founder Robert James, she regained her footing in a new romance. Helen and Dick Minck, her second husband, became one of the area's most generous — and quietest — arts supporters.

Mrs. Minck died Dec. 24 of congestive heart failure. She was 91.

"Helen was a true renaissance lover of the arts," said Michael Pastreich, president and CEO of the Florida Orchestra.

An engaged and curious conversationalist, Mrs. Minck was just as interested in artists and musicians themselves as in their work. Deepening friendships with musicians led to the couple's endowment of harp, cello and percussion chairs in the Florida Orchestra — the only patrons to endow multiple chairs, Pastreich said — and sponsorship for a harpist.

In a fundraising campaign for the Museum of Fine Arts, the Mincks numbered "in the top five of people who gave," said spokesman David Connelly.

"They are very quiet supporters," Connelly said. "The museum never really had to plead its case with them. They just come forward year after year."

Mrs. Minck was grew up in Ohio, the daughter of a lawyer and businessman. She married Harvard graduate Robert James and moved with him to St. Petersburg in 1945.

Her husband founded the company that became Raymond James Financial in 1962 and Mrs. Minck assumed a new role.

"When you are a founder's wife, you are very engaged in the business," said Tom James, her son and the chairman of Raymond James Financial.

Robert James died at work in 1983 of a heart attack. She married Minck, an Ohio jeweler and art professor she had known socially, two years later.

"We dated a bit and it worked out well," said Minck, 79. "All of a sudden we looked at each other in the moonlight, and things looked pretty good."

Tom James became CEO of Raymond James in 1970, and took the company from $2 million in revenues to $3.4 billion in 2010.

Orchestra members she endowed will play at her celebration of life gathering at Raymond James. They will be sure to play a favorite of Mrs. Minck's, Love is a Many Splendored Thing.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story.


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