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Roy Deeb, developer and benefactor for the needy, dies at 75

His widow says her husband's mission in life was helping those less fortunate than himself.

Published June 19, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - Roy J. Deeb, a developer and general contractor noted for helping poor people and pregnant women, has died at 75.

Mr. Deeb, a founder of Alpha, A Beginning Inc., died Thursday (June 17, 2004) at St. Anthony's Hospital. He had leukemia, said his wife of 55 years, Marilyn K. Deeb.

Involved for decades with the food center of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, a Catholic charity, he found his life's focus in his work for the less fortunate, she said.

"His big project was working for the poor," she said Friday. "Most of the poor people in St. Petersburg knew him."

He supported the Ozanam Inn, an apartment building for the homeless, and the Caulfield House, which provided subsidized housing for the elderly.

"He changed people's lives," his wife said. "I have letters from people who say they pray for him every day."

In 1979, he and his wife founded Alpha, A Beginning Inc., a residential program that has helped hundreds of young mothers and women with troubled pregnancies.

Roy Jerome Deeb was born in Tallahassee. His father, George, a Lebanese immigrant and self-educated home builder, moved the family here before World War II.

His father opened a lumber yard and built houses and Roy Deeb operated Pinellas Building Supply. He joined his brother, Richard J. "Dick" Deeb, in development and construction.

During his long career, he built prisons around the state as well as residential and commercial properties locally. A major project was a new Atlantic Coastline Railroad depot in the early 1960s. The historic old station on First Avenue S was razed.

His work in behalf of civic and charitable causes brought him numerous honors, including the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award from Pope John Paul II. Three years ago, the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce gave him its Outstanding Contributions to the Betterment of the Community Award.

In 1992, the Sertoma Club of St. Petersburg awarded its Service to Mankind award to him, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews of Tampa Bay honored him at its Mayors' Brotherhood/Sisterhood Luncheon in Tampa.

At St. Jude's Catholic Cathedral, he was a lector and Eucharistic minister.

He was a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Alpha Psi.

His brother, a state representative and state senator for a dozen years, died in 1990. In addition to his wife, survivors include include five sons, Terry, Kevin and Brian, all of St. Petersburg, and Steve, Dunedin, and Mark, Port Richey; four daughters, Debbie Deeb and Mary Ann Smith, both of St. Petersburg, and Kathy Roberts and Patrice Hammill, both of Seminole; a sister, Karen Slaughter, St. Petersburg; 19 grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Our Lady's Chapel at the Cathedral of St. Jude, 5815 Fifth Ave. N. A recitation of the Rosary will be at 7:30 p.m. A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Monday at the cathedral with burial at Royal Palm South Cemetery.

Brett Funeral Home and Cremation Services is in charge of arrangements.

The family suggests memorial contributions to Alpha, A Beginning Inc., 701 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, or St. Vincent de Paul Society, 384 15th St. N, St. Petersburg, FL 33705.

- Information from Times files was used in this obituary.

[Last modified June 18, 2004, 23:53:13]

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