GRACE & FRED HAGEDORN, SUMMER RODMAN, GALE PETRONIS
These four individuals not only saved the Keroauc House through their initial $10,000 contribution, but have been stellar supporters of all things historical and cultural in College Park for years. Grace and Fred have spent countless hours monitoring and maintaining the Kerouac House, Grace was our initial and long-time Secretary and Summer has spent long and constant hours managing the writer in residence liaison committee from day one to the present day, and both Gale and Summer have offered their beautiful homes to some of our most prized visitors.
Upon reading an article about the Kerouac Project in “USA Today” Jeffrey Cole offered to help us at a critical time when we had no idea how we were going to find the money to close on the purchase of the house. He made the generous contribution that made the purchase possible and saved the house from demolition. (Indeed, his donation was in the form of public stock, and, when its value went up between the time he sent it, and the time we sold it, he told us to keep the bonus).
From his teenage years Jeffrey aspired to be a writer, but never fulfilled those ambitions. Instead he went on to a long and successful business career. So, he felt that if (due to his business success) he could help others succeed in fulfilling similar dreams, it would give him a great sense of satisfaction.
He read “On the Road” when it was published in 1957 and the book had a profound influence in shaping his thinking and further igniting his interest in writing. At Harvard College in the 1960s he studied English and creative writing and was on the editorial board of the Harvard Lampoon; the nation’s oldest humor magazine. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Business School. Mr. Cole’s family founded Cole National where he was chairman and President of the largest retailer of eyewear in the world through Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical prior to his retirement in 2005. He continues to serve on several Boards here and overseas to this day. Without Jeffrey’s generous donation the Kerouac Project would have ended before it began.
As executor of the Kerouac Estate, John has been the dedicated and conscientious steward of Jack’s works, his legacy and his reputation. He has generously assisted and advised us on everything we did to set this organization, and continues to be a dear friend and ally to the Kerouac Project. Just as the Kerouac Project saved the Kerouac House and saved it from demolition, John Sampas was the critical person who saved Jack’s legacy and preserved it for all time.
David Amram is the music world’s reigning “Renaissance Man”. He was Leonard Bernstein’s first in house composer with the New York Philharmonic, wrote, arranged and conducted movie scores for many movies including THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, wrote, arranged and conducted the annual HOLOCAUST OPERA on ABC-TV through the 60s, has worked with all the great musical conductors, composers, and artists of the last half of the 20th Century, and continues to mentor, charm and entertain millions every year through his work. He is the embodiment of the “angel-side” of Jack Kerouac, and was his dear friend and musical partner, creating the first (of many) Jazz Poetry Readings beginning in 1954. But, most importantly, he is the inspiration of the Kerouac Project, who gave us the encouragement, the outline and the motivation to save the Kerouac House and make it what he and Jack spoke of often – a writers retreat. David Amram is the Project’s dear friend, and was its greatest “in-kind” benefactor having come down to produce and present countless concerts over the years to raise badly needed funds, and to give us the critical publicity opportunities which made almost all our other donations possible.
There is little than can be added to the biography of the legendary Steve Allen. Noel Coward called him America’s only genius, and his varied record verifies that. He was the composer of thousands of songs, scores of best selling books, starred in movies, was the creator of late night television, the creator of the talk show format, one of the most successful hosts of prime-time television variety shows, and, an advocate for culture, decency and generosity his entire career.
His connection with Jack Kerouac was profound, in that he introduced Jack to a national TV audience in 1957 where he accompanied him on the piano as Jack read from ON THE ROAD. He also produced an LP with him, and remained a devoted fan and friend until Jack’s death in 1968.
In memory of that friendship, Steve offered to host an evening with David Amram in 2000 right here in Orlando to raise critically needed money for the Foundation. The evening at Dubsdread was memorable, as Steve and David both played the piano and they and historian Doug Brinkley participated in a question and answer period. Steve Allen not only donated his services, he paid his own expenses to and from Orlando, and graciously stayed to sign hundreds of his books for the hundreds of fans waiting to meet this giant of the entertainment world.
Steve offered to come back annually, but his association with us sadly ended when he died far too soon just weeks after the evening he spent with us. Perhaps his humanity and decency is best indicated by an answer to the questions: “Of all the things you have done, what is the thing you are most proud of?” His answer was simple: “my grandchildren”.
RICK WALSH & PATTY DEYOUNG – THE DARDEN RESTAURANT FOUNDATION
Rick Walsh and Patty DeYoung of the Darden Restaurant Foundation (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Smoky Bones, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52) generously provided the Kerouac Project with 4 grants at various times during its most needy moments. Rick Walsh encouraged us to apply for the 1st grant while visiting Chapters on the day of one of our fund-raisers, and has been our energetic advocate before the Darden Foundation’s Board and its director, Patty DeYoung ever since. Rick has been one of our dearest friends, and without him we would still be making mortgage payments.
DR. BRUCE GORDY
Dr. Gordy has been one of Central Florida’s most active and admired public servants and leaders for decades. He was a longtime Orlando City Commissioner, and one of the first people who volunteered to help us in any way he could. On more than one occasion (he humbly won’t let us tell how often) he has come to our rescue making mortgage payments, donating work and workers to the Kerouac House’s maintenance, purchasing items we needed, including irreplaceable artifacts, and generally been our “go to” guy when we needed help in any way. He and his staff have devoted many hours to the maintenance of both houses on the property, and, along with Summer Rodman has kept the second house leased up for us, providing us with necessary income. He was an early and continuing Board member and is currently our Treasurer. Bruce Gordy has been a true and unique friend to the Project.
Doug, one of America’s most accomplished, distinguished and popular historians and authors has been our advocate from day one. He has introduced us to other Kerouac fans including the late John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Caroline, plus Kennedy historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. at an event in New York City at the legendary Algonquin Hotel where he and David Amram also introduced the Kerouac Project to the cultural capital of the world. He has always been an unparalleled resource of Kerouac knowledge, which has added necessary substance to our quest to properly celebrate Kerouac’s legacy.
KEITH & MONICA LOCHMANDY
With help from the College Park Neighborhood Association and others, especially Fred Hagedorn, Keith and Monica personally renovated the second house on the Kerouac property, which we then rented to provide the on-going funds to pay the expenses related to the Kerouac House. This was a major commitment of time and money that was entirely unexpected and enormously appreciated more than they probably know. In retrospect, Keith & Monica were two indispensable benefactors to the Project.
NANCY GRANGER & GORDY SCHWAMBERGER
Nancy and Gordy served in several capacities. Nancy arranged for OLD INC. to receive our first donations (before we were a tax exempt foundation) and pass them on to us with no reduction – a most generous fulfillment of their mission of saving architectural history in Orlando. Nancy also served as our long-time treasurer, our unofficial but “always there” photographer, and the times she and Gordy helped us with construction, house management, accounting matters and all around assistance are simply too many to mention.
Jodi Rubin and her husband Mark Schenkel were stalwart supporters from the beginning. As Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Orlando, Jodi was an ally as we moved to save and preserve the house. She and Mark also made a generous, surprise donation at a particularly critical time for us. Mark also created and maintained our website for years.
Loren, along with Summer Rodman has helped with computer needs at the House and with maintaining the Hous. Loren was also the organizer of Poetry Slams at Dubsdread that raised the profile of the Project, as well as money, in the early years.
Whenever we have needed a representative at a Central Florida event, Charlie has given tirelessly of his time. Whenever we needed assistance on anything anyone was doing that was designed to help the Kerouac Project, Charlie has been the “go to guy”. He has also been our liaison to Central Florida schools from just about the beginning.
Yvonne and her sister have donated wonderful, original artwork and prints to the Project, which have been an on-going source of revenue to us. She has, along with Charlie Sum, been one of our most important representatives, has had two articles about the Project in magazines, and, in her travels as an author is always telling people about what the Kerouac Project is doing. Her husband Malcolm has also been a constant source of help, and has allowed his employees to volunteer their time to the Project.
KIM BUCHHEIT and MIKE ROBINSON
This couple has a unique relationship to the Project. Mike actually lived in the Kerouac House as a young man. He and Kim have donated several items to the House – items we needed badly. Mike has also generously helped us financially on very important occasion and Kim recently spent hundreds of hours negotiating the tricky waters of government bureaucracy to arrange the split of the Kerouac property, so the 2nd house, not there during Kerouac’s time, could be sold to endow the Project and its mission.
BRAD KUHN & ORMUND POWERS
Brad Kuhn and Ormund Powers were two of our original Board members. Both were from the Orlando Sentinel, and were instrumental in getting the early publicity that led to all that we have accomplished. Ormund, sadly, passed away, before the Project was completed, but Brad continue to help us and re-joined the Board with a flourish in the Spring of 2005 when he not only committed himself to once again provide us with his help and leadership, but also, along with his friend John Bellochi, installed a whole new roof on the second house, completely free of charge. Brad is also, along with Summer Rodman, the founder of Shady Lane Press.
SAM HILL III
Local banker, Sam Hill III, arranged the very first bank loan that allowed us to purchase the house. While it was a relatively small loan, thanks to Jeffrey Cole, we were a fledgling organization and could find no other bankers who were willing to extend us the loan. Sam realized the value of the House and made the loan happen at Suntrust.
Florida’s most accomplished visual artist of its History, Jackson did the very first art work for our website, letterhead etc. You can still see his work everywhere that the Project has a presence. We also recommend you take a look at his “Florida History Series” that is now on permanent display at the Deland Museum of Art.
MARTY & JAN CUMMINS WITH CHAPTERS CAFÉ & BOOKSHOP
Chapters Café & Bookshop of College Park was the unofficial headquarters of the Kerouac Project from its inception. In fact, Jan’s willingness to take on the lion’s share of the business management burden freed Marty up to spent essentially full-time on Kerouac Project matters for the better part of 5 years. Chapters employees, patrons and owners were enormously supportive through the early, critically important years, and the times Chapters produced events to raise money for the Kerouac Project are simply too numerous to recall, much less list.
…AND MANY MORE…
The State of Florida gave us an $82,300 grant to renovate the Kerouac House, Dr. Bruce Gordy arranged a $1500 grant from the City of Orlando at a time of critically needed funds, the College Park Neighborhood Association has provided money, venues to publicize the House and volunteers to maintain the property, especially in the early years. Chapters Café and Bookshop and its employees and patrons for over 10 years was the unofficial HQ for the Kerouac Project and hosted scores of fund-raisers and events, as well as providing an essentially full time executive director to the Project during its years in College Park. There are also many, many more people and businesses who made the Project possible, and we thank them all.