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Even in death, McKethan touches lives

A $1-million gift to PHCC will pay for scholarships aplenty. Matching funds and interest help, too.

By RYAN DAVIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 16, 2002


The deal was typical Alfred McKethan. It wasn't just philanthropic or just a shrewd business decision. It was both.

In his death, Pasco-Her- nando Community College will benefit from his legacy.

McKethan, who was often called the patriarch of Hernando County, donated $1-million in a charitable remainder trust to PHCC. In return, he received multiple tax breaks.

"It is the perfect Mr. McKethan gift," said David Barzelay, the executive director of the PHCC foundation.

McKethan planned the $1-million donation in 1994. Since his death in April, PHCC has just begun collecting most of it.

By the time it picks up the trust and related contributions, the foundation coffers will swell by nearly $2-million.

The interest on that alone will pay for 75 students a year to attend the community college, Barzelay said. Students will start receiving the scholarships a year from now.

McKethan's contribution is the third largest donation in the history of PHCC's foundation, Barzelay said.

A 1998 trust from Rose and Leonard Case provided $1.8-million to the foundation. She was a buyer for a Long Island department store, and he was a well-known accountant-stock broker.

A 1999 trust passed through the family of William and Madeline Carney was worth $1.6-million by the time the foundation received it.

When McKethan decided to donate, the state immediately matched part of it, contributing $564,644. The interest from that money is already being used to pay scholarships.

At the time, McKethan surprised then-college president Milton Jones. They met to go over paperwork, and McKethan immediately signed off on the deal. Jones called it one of his "most glorious" moments as college president.

McKethan died April 1 at age 93. He was the retired chairman of what is now SunTrust Bank/Nature Coast and had wide-reaching political influence. He helped determine where roads and schools were built. Politicians, business leaders and friends packed his funeral.

His $1-million trust has swelled to $1.25-million. And the state will provide about $250,000 more in matching money. It matches $2 of every $3 for many donations. Including the previous state matching money, that will bring the total to roughly $2-million.

For a foundation worth about $22.5-million, it's a significant gift, Barzelay said.

"He had a warm spot in his heart for higher education," Barzelay said. "Whereas the University of Florida is always No. 1, this was in Hernando County, and he was not going to see Hernando County not remembered."

The baseball stadium at the University of Florida, McKethan's alma mater, was named for him and his donations.

He also helped found Eckerd College and helped secure land for PHCC's Brooksville campus.

"He's always been focused on education and encouraged it by helping people get scholarships," said family friend Bob Barnett, who is the chairman of the foundation's board of directors.

Barnett is also the executive vice president for SunTrust Bank/Nature Coast, which managed McKethan's trust.

And Barnett knows about McKethan's penchant for supporting education.

When Barnett attended the University of Florida in the late 1960s, McKethan helped him land a scholarship.

-- Ryan Davis can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245, or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is rdavis@sptimes.com.

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