Moffitt receives record gift
By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
TAMPA -- An 85-year-old retired industrialist from Naples has given H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center its largest private gift ever: $15-million.
The donation by Vincent Stabile, a frequent philanthropist, will allow the hospital to develop anticancer drugs, investigate genetic screening and recruit internationally known researchers.
"A gift of this magnitude accelerates our ability to do what our mission says: to help invent a cure for cancer," said Nick Porter, Moffitt's associate center director in administration.
In appreciation, the new research tower under construction on the Moffitt campus will be named after Stabile.
Stabile's interest in Moffitt began about two years ago, when he met Joe Cox, a Naples lawyer and member of the Moffitt board of directors. Stabile "indicated an interest in health care, and more particularly, research," Cox said Tuesday.
Cox had been working with former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, also a Moffitt board member, and Mack's wife, Priscilla, on fundraising for a new research facility at the Tampa center. Cox gave Stabile the information on the proposed facility.
"Before I visited Moffitt, I realized that southwest Florida needed a center dedicated to the treatment and research of cancer," said Stabile in a statement released Tuesday by Moffitt.
Stabile could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Cox said the retiree is "a very private person."
On Tuesday afternoon, the gift and artist's renderings of the Stabile Research Center were unveiled to Moffitt administrators, doctors and staff. Their reaction was "heartfelt and exciting," Cox said.
The new 350,000-square-foot building will hold three floors of research labs, an auditorium and an education and conference center. Moffitt administrators are also planning to build a clinical tower and a parking garage. The entire project is expected to cost $178- million, said a Moffitt spokeswoman.
This isn't the first time Stabile has donated a large sum of money. His money has built structures for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Jacksonville. He has also established scholarships for people who raise Seeing Eye dogs in New Jersey and made donations to a hospice in Boca Raton and an adult literacy and reading center for dyslexic children in Kentucky. He has contributed to the New York Grand Opera Company, the Naples Orchestra and his alma mater, the Pratt Institute.
Stabile, born in New York and raised in New Jersey, received his bachelor's degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and a master's degree from Columbia. In 1950, he started his business, the Industrial Retaining Ring Co. in Mount Vernon, N.Y. His patent of an industrial fastener used in a wide variety of products, from cars to household appliances, aided in his success. In 1994, he sold his company and devoted his time to philanthropy.
His large gift to Moffitt is rarein the world of cancer research facilities, Porter said.
"They are considered total blessings when they occur," he said.
Moffitt, which sits on the campus of the University of South Florida, is the only National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in Florida. It opened in 1986.
"A visit to Moffitt convinced me that ... Moffitt was filling the void," Stabile said in the statement released by Moffitt. "I was impressed by the obvious determination to find the keys to treating and hopefully eliminating the various forms of cancer. Moffitt's devotion to research prompted my helping in consolidating its research into its new building."
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