TAMPA, Fla. -- The Straz Center is remembering a man who gave so much to the community.
David Straz Jr.’s passing has had a profound impact on the hearts of many.
The news of the longtime businessman’s death came Monday night, but folks at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts say it’s just starting to set in. His name is lit up along the marquee outside the Straz Center in memoriam.
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"He made a huge difference, and he didn’t have to! People don’t have to do this, but he stepped up to the plate,” said Judy Lisi, the President and CEO of the Straz Center.
She says his dedication quite possibly changed the course of what it means to take care of the community you live in.
"It’s a great loss but it’s also I think reminds people of how important what we do with our lives is,” she said.
The Straz Center is one of the largest arts organizations in the country and in 2009, Straz gave the largest philanthropic donation a cultural institution has ever seen to help it thrive.
"We bring hundreds of shows into the community every year and these are things that we could never ever do if we didn’t have the kind of support that David was so generous with,” said Lisi.
It’s a gift that keeps on giving. Lisi says it continues to build interest and allows the organization to fund their commitment to education.
They were one of the first arts organizations to open up an education center. They also give scholarships to students who can’t afford to pay certain fees.
Mayor Jane Castor also offered her condolences Tuesday. She says he left a huge mark on the community through his actions.
"For our arts and culture and in a number of other areas that the citizens aren’t even aware of. So my heart goes out to his wife and his daughter at this time,” said Castor.
The Straz Foundation says funeral arrangements are being put together now and will announce the plans when they are final.