Our Featured "Legacies" at Legacies Cucina ItalianaThey strived for something beyond their own self interests. They made a difference, had an impact, affected the lives of others and gave of themselves.
Tampa Police Chief Bennie Holder (Ret)
The son of a share cropper in Georgia, he didn’t grow up with the luxuries that many of his future peers had. He joined the Tampa Police Department in 1971 and rose through the ranks, from the dangerous streets of Tampa in the 1970’s to serving in prestigious posts in Hostage Negotiation and Internal Affairs. An imposing man with incredible physical strength, but a warm heart, he became the first black police Chief in the City of Tampa. He not only had to battle criminals on the street, but he also had to battle many old guard government and business establishments within the City of Tampa. He perservered and was ultimately revered by his loyalists and converts alike. He remains the longest serving Chief of Police in the history of Tampa. He was known for demanding excellence and also being a “cops cop” respected by the troops.
The namesake for Fowler Avenue was part of a group who helped develop Temple Terrace from orange groves and vacant land to one of the first suburbs of Tampa.
She was from a prominent Tampa family – her father being a physician. When Tampa’s new City Hall was built in 1915 it had no clock and the City had no funds to purchase one. Hortense Oppenheimer organized the fund drives to have the beautiful four faced tower adorned with the clock now known as “Hortense”
Gianna Tagliarini’s great uncle was Dr. Frank Adamo (Pronounced A-dahm-o not A-da-mo”). He was a prisoner in WWII during the Bataaan death march and implemented new field treatments for gangrene. First Avenue was renamed Adamo Drive upon his return to the USA and a huge parade was held in his honor.
An African American nurse trained in Alabama she saw a need for many of Tampa’s blacks who didn’t have the medical treatment afforded to others. After first taking patients in her home, she eventually operated out of the Tampa Negro Hospital at 1615 Lamar Street. After her death, Clara Frye Hospital served African Americans and others at the foot of the Blvd. Bridge to the Hillsborough River. Gianna Tagliarini Caravella’s father, Dr. Tagliarini saw patients there at one time.
Blanche Armwood and Sylvia Kimbell – The Educators
Both of these women were destined to help others succeed by educating. Aside from teaching in Hillsborough County schools, both held numerous positions of leadership including posts as Executives in the NAACP (Blanche) and Legislative Posts as a County Commissioner (Sylvia). Armwood High Scool and Kimbell Elementary School are their namesakes. Blanche Armwood is buried inside the L’Unione Italiana Cemetry.
Victoriano, Roland and Patrick Mantiega
What could make a father prouder than to see a son continue on the same path? Victoriano, who started young as a lector in a cigar factory, formed his own newspaper “La Gaceta”. His son Roland continued the enterprise and his son Patrick carries the torch of family tradition today. The United States of America has only one tri-lingual newspaper and Tampa is proud to have it - La Gaceta. We are fortunate to have a long line of Mantiega’s to keep us informed in many ways outside the scope of traditional news.
Gary Mormino, Leland Hawes, Tony Pizzo - The Historians
The passion, attention to detail, community stewardship and perspective of these three historians is present even after some have passed. Through their published accounts, stories, articles, books and lectures, we will never forget the Legacies of Tampa.
Cesar Gonzales and Adela Hernandez – The Gonzmarts
Cesar Gonzales was a highly accomplished violinist from Tampa. He traveled to Cuba and was a concertmaster in Havana at age 21. He toured back in the United States with an orchestra. He later changed his surname to GonzMart (honoring his patriarchal and matriarchal surnames of Gonzales and Martinez). He met Adela Hernandez who was a Juliard School of Music graduate. Her accomplished piano mastery and his violin mastery were a staple of the atmosphere of the Columbia Restaurant for many years. Their community involvement, vision, dedication and passion are legendary.
Peter Oliphant Knight
Col. Peter Oliphant Knight, served as the president of the Tampa Electric Co. from 1924 to 1946. He also organized the city's first electric street railway company, the Tampa Suburban Railway. He is also credited with starting the Exchange National Bank and the Tampa Gas Company.
Lee Roy Selmon
A gentle giant, an accomplished athlete, Lee Roy and his brother took Tampa by a storm of popularity in the 1970’s in the infancy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Winning their hearts and minds, Lee Roy Selmon went onward as a moral businessman, family man, entrepeneur, mentor, community leader, fund raiser, supporter for charities, role model and Athletics Director at USF.
Joseph P. Wall
He was the 16th Mayor of Tampa, a Confederate War Colonel, Surgeon, and Founder of the Tampa Board of Trade. He was also the son of notable pioneer Perry Green Wall and father of the notorious Charlie Wall.
He was born in Wilhelmsbruck, Germany. He remains the only person to be elected to four (4) non-consecutive terms as a Mayor of Tampa. He orchestrated the development of Tampa by facilitating Henry Plants Hotel in Tampa. He laid the cornerstone to the beautiful Plant Hotel to what is now the University of Tampa.
Don Francisco Maria Celi
The Spanish explorer who is responsible for the first
known map of what is now Tampa and Temple Terrace. His exploration is marked by a historical marker at
Henry Bradley Plant
Railroad magnate of the South Florida Railroad and later the Plant system (His railroad and steamship lines). Two of the ships in his fleet which plied the waters between Cuba, Key West and Tampa were named “Mascotte” and “Olivette” which were the names of popular French operettas at the time. A representation of a steamer is featured on the City of Tampa seal, portrayed historically inaccurate as a three masted schooner.
The Mascotte ( Cramp Shipbuilding Philidelphia hull number 247) and the Olivette (hull number 253)
The “Mascotte had two masts and a steam stack.
It is admirable enough the 25th President of the United States was so well broadened that he was an elected Assemblyman for the State of New York, New York Police Commissioner, Cowboy in the Dakotas and Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He is most fondly remembered in Tampa, however, as his Rough Riders de-camped from near downtown and Port Tampa for Cuba. There, Teddy Roosevelt’s actions on San Juan Hill are legendary.
Vincente Ybor Martinez
He was born in Valencia, Spain and moved to Cuba as a teenager. He later founded his own Cigar Company and had great success. He later moved his production to Key West Florida.
After establishing a relationship with the Tampa Board of Trade, he moved his facilities and factory to the outskirts of municipal Tampa. The area now known as “Ybor City” was annexed by Tampa in 1887. Vincenete Martinez-Ybor provided housing – and more importantly – an opportunity for cigar workers to own their own houses. Aside from many other infrastructure and cultural improvements afforded to the workers of the area, his vision, business risk and commitment endured to form the foundations for the National Historic District known today as “Ybor City” in Tampa.
He was born in Washington DC and was a pioneering
aviator piloting the plane where the first parachutist jumped from a plane in
1912. He moved to St. Petersburg and was tasked as the pilot for the St.
Petersburg Tampa Airboat line – the first commercial flying service in history
for a winged aircraft. On January
1, 1914 he departed from St. Petersburg in his Benoist airplane with the first
passenger, Abraham Pheil. 23 minutes later the scheduled flight landed at the
mouth of the Hillsborough River and the top of Bayshore Blvd. where a monument
Native of Ybor City and a Hillsborough High School Graduate, he went on to the US Naval Academy and was a commissioned officer in the USMC. On September 15, 1950 – he gave the ultimate sacrifice ofr his country. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a marine platoon commander of Company A, in action against enemy aggressor forces. With his platoon 1st Lt. Lopez was engaged in the reduction of immediate enemy beach defenses after landing with the assault waves. Exposing himself to hostile fire, he moved forward alongside a bunker and prepared to throw a hand grenade into the next pillbox whose fire was pinning down that sector of the beach. Taken under fire by an enemy automatic weapon and hit in the right shoulder and chest as he lifted his arm to throw, he fell backward and dropped the deadly missile. After a moment, he turned and dragged his body forward in an effort to retrieve the grenade and throw it. In critical condition from pain and loss of blood, and unable to grasp the hand grenade firmly enough to hurl it, he chose to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men and, with a sweeping motion of his wounded right arm, cradled the grenade under him and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. His exceptional courage, fortitude, and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon 1st Lt. Lopez and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Paul Ray Smith
A graduate of Tampa Bay Tech High School, Sgt. Smith, before giving the ultimate sacrifice, wrote these poignant words in a letter: Before deploying to Iraq Smith had written to his parents, "There are two ways to come home, stepping off the plane and being carried off the plane. It doesn't matter how I come home, because I am prepared to give all that I am to ensure that all my boys make it home."[
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith's extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division Rock of the Marne, and the United States Army.
Mabry, a native of Tallahassee, Florida, was the son of former Florida Supreme Court Justice Milton H. Mabry and Ella Dale Bramlett. He went on to become an airship pilot and captain in the US Army Air Corp. Captain Mabry died piloting the Army airship Roma,a dirigible he was testing, when it crashed in Norfolk, Virginia on February 21, 1922. The event marked the greatest disaster in American aeronautics up to that time, resulting in 34 deaths. Mabry was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa is named for him. It was initially constructed to connect what was then MacDill Field, now MacDill Air Force Base with then Drew Field - now Tampa International Airport.
George Mercer Brooke
He established a military cantonment before the City of Tampa was established near the site of today’s Tampa Convention Center at the mouth of the Hillsborough River. The Fort Brooke Parking Garage, along Whiting Street between Franklin and Florida, was named in his honor.
The epitome of Public Service. He was a commissioned officer in the US Army and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. He was elected in the House of Representatives for the State of Florida, was a Florida Supreme Court Justice, a Hillsborough County Adminstrator and Director of Tampa General Hospital. Aside from all this, he was active in numerous service organizations.
Leroy Collins Jr
A son of Florida Governor Leroy Collins, US Naval Academy Graduate, retired as a Rear Admiral, an accomplished businessman and avid fitness enthusiast.
He is the son of a retired, tough Chicago cop. His family moved to the Tampa area where he joined the Tampa Police Department after first working as a Manatee County Sherifffs Deputy. He went on to serve as the 11th Sergeant Major of the Army (Reserves). He lives by and embodies The NCO Creed. He now serves as the Senior Enlisted Advisor for Personnel and Readiness to the Under Secretary of Defense. SGM Schultz first and foremost fulfills his missions by looking out for the health, morale and welfare of his troops and families.
Rev. Billy Graham
An adviser to numerous US Presidents, a spiritual leader and evangelist to millions, he attended what is now known as Florida College in Temple Terrace. He received his calling on the 18th hole of the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club and the serene setting along the Hillsborough River has a historical marker.
Born as Aurellio Tomaini in 1912, he grew, according
to various accounts over 8 feet tall.
He operated Giants Gish Camp in Gibsonton and was involved in his
community. A memorial marker
of “Al’s Giant Boot” is located on
US 41 south of the Alafia River.
Malachai Leo Elliot
His architectural designs are a signature of Tampa and the surrounding area. They include Old Tampa City Hall; L’Unione Italiana and Centro Asturiano in Ybor City; Masonic Temple 25 in Tampa and Sutton Hall in Temple Terrace.