April 24, 2014

Florida Icon

Icon: Gus Stavros

Businessman, philanthropist, Florida Board of Governors member, 82

Art Levy | 11/1/2007

» At Florida State, when they asked me to chair the education foundation, I asked people about the foundation, and they laughed at me. The boosters were the big thing at Florida State. Football. So I went up there and I called the deans together, the president, the boosters, everyone. We all met in a room, and I said, ‘Look, we’re all working for the same university. We have to work together’ — and we raised $302 million.

» When you’re 50 or over 50, you should start thinking, ‘What do you want to be known for?’ I used to think that I wanted to be known for the company, but I’m more proud of Enterprise Village and Finance Park. I’m proud of what I’ve done to promote economic education.

» Once we’ve attained success, then we must prepare to die poor. It sounds strange, but you’ve got to do that. My wife and I have given to charity 150% of what I got for my company.

» When I was a kid, we had comic books, Super-Man comic books, Batman. When I worked at my father’s diner, he would give me a dime, and I’d get a comic book. I had a library of comic books, and I would rent out the comic books to the kids in the neighborhood for a penny each. That was my first entrepreneurial venture. I was 6 or 7.

» I’ve met every university president. They’re dynamic people. They’re intelligent. Their main interest is their own university, and that makes sense. But we can’t work that way in Florida. We have to convince all the presidents to work together for the greater good. If we have one program at one university, maybe we don’t need the same program at another university. We only have so much money.

» The only selfish thing I’ve done, because of my love for baseball, is I’m a 1% owner of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I didn’t do it as an investment. To me, it’s just the thrill of saying I’m a 1% owner of a professional baseball team. I enjoy it, but I don’t sleep well when they lose.

» My father died in 1969. The company was still small. He didn’t think I was much of a success. He knew I was a good person, but he felt I should have done something different. I wish he were around to see what happened.

» I’m like a father image to Charlie Crist. We’ve talked many times about education. I like Charlie. He’s real people. He speaks from the heart. He wants to do well. He’s got a job that’s so difficult. He has a great attitude, a positive attitude, but there are going to be bumps along the road. There always are.

» The condition of standing still is the beginning of the end, so I never stand still.

Tags: Politics & Law, Florida Icon, Education, Government/Politics & Law

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