Gator Great Honorees

Grimes

2014 Honorees Caleb and Michele Grimes

         With the belief in a culture of greatness that extends far beyond our campus in Gainesville, it’s great to recognize Gator Alumni for their achievements and positive contributions to our community.  Florida Alumni, donors, friends and fans of UF are all considered family and important stakeholders in the success of our University. The Gator Great award was established to recognize dedicated, hardworking individuals with a passion for supporting his/her local community.  Of course, one must also be a true believer in the reputation that comes with being a member of the Gator nation.  It is for this reason the Manatee County Gator Club is both excited and honored to award our Gator Great recognition.  We are honored to present this award to Mr. and Mrs. Caleb and Michele Grimes.

          As with any distinction or honor, there are certain qualities one must possess in order to be named a Gator Great.  The first key quality is that one must be a friend of the University of Florida and the Manatee County Gator Club. Caleb and Michele Grimes are both passionate supporters of the University of Florida. Caleb attended the University of Florida for both of his undergraduate and graduate degrees.  Graduating from the University’s College of Law J.D. in 1978, he is an attorney with Grimes Goebel Grimes Hawkins Gladfelter & Galvano, PL. Michele also attended the University of Florida for her graduate degree. Graduating from the University’s College of Law J.D. in 1978, Michele is a board certified real estate attorney with Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen.  Both Gator’s graduated respectively with honors. It is the College of Law at the University of Florida that brought Caleb and Michele together.  Having classes together and participating in the same study group, the two Gators soon fell in love.  Mr. and Mrs. Grimes now have four children, all of whom have attended the University of Florida. One of their favorite Florida Gator stories comes after learning about their daughter’s recent engagement.  Michele inquired about a possible wedding date and her daughter spouted out a future date almost as fast as she said “yes” to her fiance’s proposal.  Mr. and Mrs. Grimes were a little surprised at how quickly she responded and they asked why she happened to choose THAT date and her daughter simply responded, “Because it’s a Gator Bye week that week!”  What a true testament of the loyalty this family has for the Gator Nation!

          When asked to describe the Gator Nation in five words or less, the couple responded, “Committed, successful, fun and everywhere!”  Mrs. Grimes went on further to tell of a time they ran into a fellow Gator fan at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City, where they cheerfully exchanged Gator cheers and resulted in a good old fashioned gator chomp.  The Gator Nation truly is everywhere!

          Both Mr. and Mrs. Grimes have been active members of the Manatee County Gator Club for more than thirty years. After graduating, the couple moved back to the local area and quickly affiliated themselves with the Manatee County Gator Club.  One of Mr. Grimes’s favorite Gator Club memories was attending the annual golf tournament, where he was able to play a round with Galen Hall and Steve Spurrier.  Michele and Caleb fully believe that a successful service club is all about having a cause. They hope that the current board of the Manatee County Gator Club continues to keep focused on the fact that the University of Florida is much more than football games on Saturdays or basketball games in the spring.  Rather, that the University of Florida has a strong academic focus and with the Preeminence Initiative, strives to be a top school in the nation.  Because they believe so highly in the University of Florida, Caleb and Michele established and continually contribute to different funds, which further support the academic realm and the strong legacy of UF.

          Of course, prizing the University of Florida and the Manatee County Gator Club is not the only quality required of a Gator Great recipient. Both Mr. and Mrs. Grimes have also demonstrated leadership qualities in our community. Michele has served as general counsel and as a member of the board of directors for the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. Other past affiliations include Service Club, Girl Scouts, United Way, YMCA, and even being a founding member of Junior League of Manatee County. Michele also holds the distinction of being the first female president of the Sarasota County Bar Association.  Caleb has served as chairman, president and board member of the Foundation for the Boys and Girls Club of Manatee County and is a past director and officer for the Manatee County Family YMCA. Past affiliations include Manatee County American Heart Association, School Advisory Committee at Jessie P. Miller Elementary, and United Soccer Association.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Grimes also spent countless hours devoting time to coaching local soccer leagues.

          Clearly, this couple deserves to be identified as a Gator Great.  Mr. and Mrs. Grimes are committed and dedicated to the Manatee County Gator Club and are to be commended for their many outstanding contributions to not only our local community, but the entire Gator community as well.  Such an amazing couple can and should be looked upon as an example of greatness and positivity. As Mark Twain once said, “Really great people make you feel that you too can be great.”  The Manatee County Gator Club would like to extend our sincere thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Grimes, for inspiring us to be our best and for their continuous support in all our endeavors.

Go Gators!

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2014 Honorees Max and Ginger Mathis

         At the University of Florida we don’t just believe in excellence on the athletic fields, but in a culture of greatness that extends far beyond our campus in Gainesville. Alumni, donors, friends and fans of UF are all considered family and important stakeholders in the success of our University. It is up to us, as Florida Gators, to continue the tradition of greatness that began in 1853 and to stand as exemplary pillars of our local community. The Gator Great award was established to recognize dedicated, hardworking individuals with a passion for supporting his/her local community.  Of course, one must also be a true believer in the reputation that comes with being a member of the Gator nation.  It is for this reason the Manatee County Gator Club is both excited and honored to introduce our second Gator Great recognition.  We are honored to present the Gator Great award to Mr. and Mrs. Max and Ginger Mathis. Following a long illness, Max Mathis passed away on April 1, 2014.  He lived a long and fulfilling life, and anyone who had the pleasure of knowing him would agree that he would be forever grateful to receive such an honor. 

          As with any distinction or honor, there are certain qualities one must possess in order to be named a Gator Great.  The first key quality is that one must be a friend of the University of Florida and the Manatee County Gator Club. Max and Ginger are both avid supporters of the University of Florida. Having gone to Florida School of Banking, Florida native Ginger, received her Bachelor’s Degree through the University of Florida and continued on to attend LSU.  After attending two different SEC schools, it was evident that Ginger’s heart belonged  to the Florida Gators. Mr. Mathis, a native of the great northern state of Michigan, attended college at North Texas State, after serving in the United States Air Force. His love for the Gators grew throughout his years in Florida.

          Both Mr. and Mrs. Mathis were active members of the Manatee County Gator Club for several years. Mrs. Mathis learned of the local club through her time at the University of Florida and began attending events.  Ginger recalls the venue for the couples first date was a football watch party put on by the Gator Club.  Soon after the date she began inviting Max to different Gator Club events, even though he didn’t have any orange or blue in his wardrobe.  That soon changed!  Through their continued support and love of the Manatee County Gator Club, both Max and Ginger willingly served on the board of directors for several years.  Max held the office of President, while Ginger worked as the club’s secretary.  During their time on the board, both Gators were instrumental in raising substantial funds for UF scholarships. One of their biggest successes was the implementation of the Gator Golf Tournament. In its first year, the new fundraiser raised a record amount of money, not too far behind the Jacksonville Gator Club, which was one of the largest clubs at the time.

          During her time as a member, Ginger states that it was the people who help make up her most favorite part of being a part of the Manatee County Gator Club.  She felt that the Manatee Club represented a group of professionals with an important common goal, raise funds for future Gators and familiarize them with the route to success.   When asked to describe the Gator Club in five words or less, Ginger quickly stated the following words “Faithful, energetic, loyal, hardworking and all around Great Gators!”  She states that, personally, the Manatee County Gator club helped her and her husband grow closer together through the process of working towards a common goal.  Professionally, the club opened new opportunities for professionals to be together and to build a network of trustworthy and reliable people. She urges the current club to stay focused on their goals and to work hard together. After all, through all types of weather we do stick together!

          Like our first couple it's not hard to see, this couple is beyond worthy of our Gator Great award.  The Mathis’s commitment and dedication to the Manatee County Gator Club, in addition to their many outstanding contributions to our community is to be commended.  As Winston Churchill once said, “You make living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.”  The couples continuous and selfless giving throughout the years has left a positive impact on many lives throughout our community and for that the Manatee County Gator Club would like to say, “Thank You!”

Go Gators!

2014 Honorees Gene and Pat Gallo

        At the University of Florida we don’t just believe in excellence on the athletic fields, but in a culture of greatness that extends far beyond our campus in Gainesville. Alumni, donors, friends and fans of UF are all considered family and important stakeholders in the success of our University. It is up to us, as Florida Gators, to continue the tradition of greatness that began in 1853 and to stand as exemplary pillars of our local community. The Gator Great award was established to recognize dedicated, hardworking individuals with a passion for supporting his/her local community.  Of course, one must also be a true believer in the reputation that comes with being a member of the Gator nation.  It is for this reason the Manatee County Gator Club is both excited and honored to introduce our first ever Gator Great recognition.  We are honored to present the Gator Great award to Mr. and Mrs. Gene and Pat Gallo.

        As with any distinction or honor, there is are certain qualities one must possess in order to be named a Gator Great.  The first key quality is that one must be a friend of the University of Florida and the Manatee County Gator Club. Gene and Pat are both avid supporters of the University of Florida. Gene, a fan since the age of 12, began to root for the Gators out of spite, as his father and brother were devoted University of Miami fans.  Liking the bold orange and blue colors and not wanting to be like them, he would listen to the Gators on the radio every Saturday, even if it meant going to a different room.  It took Pat a little longer to see the value in the Gator Nation, though. Starting her love for football as an LSU fan, Pat became a supporter of the University of Florida after she attended her first Gator game in1966, a close game against Auburn. Mrs. Gallo was pregnant with their daughter at the time and remembers watching Steve Spurrier kick the winning field goal. “I’ve been a fan ever since,” Pat stated.

        Both Mr. and Mrs. Gallo have been active members of the Manatee County Gator Club for more than twenty years. The Gator couple was introduced to the Manatee County Gator Club through a good friend, Walter Miller, at one of the club’s many watch parties. After joining the club, both served a good majority of their years as board members, collaborating with the group to make decisions, which would benefit the club.  A few of their goals as board members were to increase membership, increase funds for scholarships and to try and make the community aware of the benefits of having local service clubs, like the Manatee County Gator Club.  All of which are goals that the current board members have today. The couple further stated that ‘commitment’ stands out as one of the most important qualities of the Manatee County Gator club.

        Through all the years, Pat states that one of her fondest memories of being a part of the club is being able to meet and become friends with so many people she otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to know.  One of Gene’s favorite memories of the Manatee County Gator club is participating in all sorts of different social events.  When asked, one that particularly stuck out in his mind was the FSU vs UF golf tournament, which took place at night. “It really got everyone excited to participate.” The Gator Great couple was asked to describe the Manatee County Gator Club in five words or less. “Really great people,” Gene stated, mentioning that everyone he knows who has been involved in the Gator club is and has always been willing to participate and lend a hand to help our community, “Typical Gators!” Once piece of advice that The Gallo’s have for current Manatee County Gator Club members is to get involved and to stay committed.  “If you stay involved and stay committed, good things happen. Good things happen for the Gator Club and even better things happen in our community” Mr. Gallo states.

   Both Mr. and Mrs. Gallo have also demonstrated leadership qualities both in their profession and the community. Outside of their careers, both recipients have spent countless hours volunteering with various community organizations.  As a retired police dispatcher, Mrs. Gallo has spent time as a Girl Scout leader, PTA president, deaconess at church, band booster, president of Sports boosters at Manatee High School, and lead cheerleading for the Manatee County youth football league.  As a retired fire chief and current city councilman, Mr. Gallo has served as president of PTA at Prine Elementary school, president of Band boosters at Manatee High School, president of Manatee County church league, president and coach of Manatee County youth football league, coach for numerous area youth sports teams, president of the Manatee County Fire Chiefs Association (started organization), president of the State of Florida Fire Chiefs Association, selected as Fire Chief of the year for the State for Florida, board of director of Manatee County Gator Club, and trustee at his church.  “We’ve always been involved and we’ve lived a very blessed life because of it,” Pat Gallo stated with pride.  

        As one can see, this couple is beyond worthy of the first ever Gator Great award.  The Gallo’s commitment and dedication to the Manatee County Gator Club, in addition to their many outstanding contributions to our community is to be commended.  As Winston Churchill once said, “You make living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.”  The Gallo’s continuous and selfless giving throughout the years has left a positive impact on many lives throughout our community and for that the Manatee County Gator Club would like to say, “Thank You!”

Go Gators!