Philanthropy is all about the giving of time, talent and treasures. There are many people in Ocala who do so willingly and, often, with little recognition. We at Ocala Magazine feel that no good deed shall go unacknowledged, so we partnered with the Non-Profit Business Council of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce to spotlight and honor a half dozen of the few, the humble, the Masters of Charity.
We asked the Non-Profit Business Council to nominate various members of the community for their outstanding benevolent service through donations of their time, abilities and/or money. A list of candidates was provided, and Ocala Magazine selected the finalists.
Of the finalists, one—Frank DeLuca—was designated as our Philanthropist of the Year for his extraordinary, tireless devotion to numerous charities. Another—Lauren DeIorio—was designated our Volunteer of the Year for her selfless efforts to charitable organizations in medicine, education and the arts. Through their efforts, both of them, along with the rest of our nominees, are improving the quality of life here in Ocala/Marion County.
So without further ado, Ocala Magazine proudly presents the Masters of Charity.
Philanthropist of the Year: Frank DeLuca
The March of Dimes made a lasting impression on eight-year-old Frank DeLuca, the future president and owner of DeLuca Toyota in Ocala. Growing up in Orlando, he collected dimes for the charity. Years later, while other boys joined sports clubs or debate teams in high school, DeLuca joined the Civitan Club, an international organization dedicated to volunteer service and assisting various charities.
DeLuca moved to Ocala in 1978, purchased the original Toyota dealership on SR 200 and has been a staple here in our community ever since. Shortly after his arrival, DeLuca joined the Ocala/Silver Springs Rotary Club and served as its president. His charitable contributions began with the Rotary Club’s Annual Fundraiser, selling barbecue chicken dinners.
Today, DeLuca is a long-time member of Blessed Trinity Church in Ocala. His late wife, Carole, was an active member of the Ocala Royal Dames for Cancer Research before her untimely passing in 2006.
Along with his two children, Frank Paul DeLuca and Deana DeLuca Denney, and five grandchildren, DeLuca keeps his wife’s memory alive with contributions to the American Heart Association—Carole DeLuca was lost her life to heart disease while on a ski vacation in Colorado—as well as 34 other charitable organizations, among them the American Red Cross, Crime Stoppers of Marion County, Historical Ocala Preservation Society, Make a Wish Foundation and the United Way of Marion County.
Over the years, DeLuca has made a noteworthy impact in Ocala, chief among them his involvement with the American Heart Association. DeLuca has been one of three Legacy sponsors since the inception of the Go Red For Women event. Last year, DeLuca co-chaired the inaugural Marion County Red Tie Society event, raising the largest amount in the country. Marion County is now the model for a nationwide rollout of the Go Red for Woman’s campaign, the Red Tie Society.
DeLuca and his family also have been supportive of the College of Central Florida for decades. He has been a generous supporter of the CF Foundation’s successful scholarship fundraiser, Taste of Ocala, for more than 15 years.
DeLuca remains passionate about the first charity he supported as an eight year old, the March of Dimes. As chair of the local fundraising effort in 2009, he raised $20,000 with the help of his team. Over his lifetime, he estimates that he has raised more than $500,000 for the charity.
“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my lifetime is to always give back,” DeLuca says. “Today, I am still trying to do my part by giving children, families and charities the resources and opportunities they need for a brighter future.”
Volunteer of the Year: Lauren DeIorio
A native of Louisville, KY, DeIorio received her first taste of volunteerism while at the University of Louisville. She joined the Delta Zeta sorority, which emphasizes philanthropy and service, and organized various fundraisers for Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing, located in Washington, D.C. The experience left a lasting impression on the young finance major.
When she relocated to Marion County 15 years ago, she joined the Junior League, which helped shape the rest of her life. “My most memorable experience volunteering happened when I joined the Junior League of Ocala,” recalls DeIorio. At the time, the organization logged many hours with the Family Visitation Center, a place where foster-care children spent supervised weekends visiting with their biological parents. One day, at a Christmas party, DeIorio watched as children were greeted by their parents. One little girl, about four years old, dressed in a pretty dress and white patent leather shoes, stood in the doorway for nearly 30 minutes. When DeIorio talked to her, the little girl said she was waiting for her mother, who never arrived.
A representative at the Visitation Center told DeIorio that the girl’s mother was a drug addict who promised her little girl she would visit but never did. As the representative walked the little girl toward other children to play, Delorio wept, vowing to make a difference.
Since then, DeIorio has made an impressive impact on Marion County as a volunteer, working with such organizations as the Marion County Medical Society Alliance, the Florida Medical Association Alliance, the Public Education Foundation of Marion County, Fine Arts for Ocala and Church of Hope.
Twelve of her 15 years in Marion County were with ARC Marion, which provides services to the developmentally disabled. The other organization she devotes most of her time and talents to is the Public Education Foundation of Marion County. “I’m a firm believer that every child deserves a quality education,” she says. “Through the foundation, the Take Stock in Children program provides children who may not have the financial means to obtain a college education.”
DeIorio believes we are all called to serve our community. “It doesn’t matter whether you are five years old or 95—just by giving yourself, you can make a big difference.”
Lt. Col. Frank and Naida Rasbury
The very first philanthropic endeavors for Frank and Naida Rasbury involved canvassing funds for the March of Dimes and War Bonds during World War II. Since then, they have each taken on distinctive positions in various charitable organizations.
The Rasburys moved to Ocala 24 years ago from Long Island, N.Y. Frank retired from active duty as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and from a position as executive director of the Nassau County (N.Y.) chapter of the American Red Cross. Naida retired from her position with the New York City government.
Since moving to Ocala, they have undertaken, both together and separately, many volunteer endeavors, earning themselves the unofficial title of “professional volunteers.” Frank has served as president of the Kingdom of the Sun chapter, past president of the Childhood Development Services Board and founding president of the Senior Institute of the Central Florida Community College, now the College of Central Florida, while Naida served on the board of the Public Education Foundation, was a founding member of Safe Kids Coalition and is a past member of Human Rights Advocacy Committee, District 13.
Blessed with a lovely singing voice, Naida has been a soloist and/or produced fundraising programs on behalf of the Ocala Arts Fest, the Central Florida (Ocala) Symphony Guild, Festival of Trees and the Ocala Royal Dames.
Mary Brent Kraus
A native of Marion County, Mary Krause has been giving back and helping others her entire adult life, and probably longer. Now retired, she continues to quietly reach out and generously support community and life-changing projects stretching to all four corners of the county.
Although not related to her previous vocation of nursing, art remains one of Krause’s true passions. She watched the Appleton Museum being built and has been involved as a volunteer and docent since the early 1990s.
Krause is also a supporter of the education, and has established endowed scholarships in honor of her brother and late husband for incoming CF students. She established the 4 STEPS to CF scholarships for students attending Marion County’s elementary schools, including Shady Hill, Ward-Highlands, Romeo and Ft. McCoy, offering $4,000 to students who plan to attend CF upon completion of high school.
A solid relationship with his community-minded and active father is what shaped William Taylor’s own charitable sensibility. “I have seen the evidence of his fruitful giving and wanted to carry on that legacy in all aspects of my life, as well as show my daughter the same example,” says Taylor, vice-president and CEO of Combined Insurance Services, the company his father started.
To the Taylors, success is measured by what type of mark you leave on the people around you. The youngest on our list, Taylor has left an indelible mark on many around him. He has served as co-chair of the Ocala/Marion County Christmas Parade since 2000 and founded of the Gift of Christmas Toy Drive in 2004. In addition, he has served on numerous boards, including those for the Hope Foundation, Marion Senior Services, Emerging Leaders of Ocala and Leadership Ocala Marion Youth.