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Gene and Patsy McNichols: Special people with a special story

Gene and Patsy McNichols at Alice in Wonderland "Mad About TGH" Tampa General Hospital Foundation's 21st Annual Gala.
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The McNichols’s generosity has helped many organizations, from TGH to UT to the Straz.

Gene and Patsy McNichols are a couple whose faith-based lives and generous hearts have had an enormous impact on the Tampa Bay Area. Behind their philanthropic leadership and continuous generosity is a story of resolve and leadership by example.

Over 66 years ago, Bob McNichols, Gene’s father, founded McNichols Company, a specialty metals distribution company delivering “Hole Products” of perforated and expanded metal, wire mesh and other grating and floor products. After serving his country in World War II, Bob established the company according to a moral code dedicated to his employees and his customers. His faith in the Lord gave him confidence. Evidence of the source of his strength came in a message to his son, Gene, in July of 1980: “Please pray daily for help from the Lord for guiding the company. For within Him all things are possible.” Bob passed away in 1981, leaving Gene to run the company. Today, the McNichols family carries on Bob’s legacy.

Gene and Patsy’s generosity has touched many organizations and causes within the Tampa Bay area. They are passionate about their giving and have coupled their gifts with endless hours of volunteerism, inspiring many to emulate them. They particularly like to challenge their communities by inspiring others to “get on board” and support the cause. They have also been inspired by other generous citizens. Their faith has led them to support Our Savior Lutheran Church and School, Joshua House, The Spring of Tampa Bay, The Salvation Army and The Florida Orchestra. Each initiative has focused on an effort to make the lives of those less fortunate better, one day at a time and one person at a time.

Gene and Patsy have also reached out to support important pillars of the Tampa Bay community. The Straz Center has been a continuing favorite, and the University of Tampa has benefited from Gene’s long and influential support. He is one of five Chair Emeriti.

Tampa General Hospital has also seen the benefits of Gene and Patsy’s philanthropic leadership. In 2013 they received the James M “Red” McEwan Award given annually to a person or persons whose good works and dedicated service have contributed to the betterment of Tampa General. This year’s TGH gala would not have been a success without the leadership of the McNichols family and McNichols Company. The 2018 Alice in Wonderland “Mad about TGH” party was a record-breaker. Honorary chairs Gene and Patsy McNichols were quick to take the mike and personally share their TGH story with the festive crowd.

In a whole ’nother place, in a different time, there was a simple man named Jimmy Lee. Jimmy was in charge of maintenance a t a private school in Wilmington, Delaware, where he inspired students every day with his faith and his commitment to his job. Jimmy lived by the philosophy found on a plaque placed in his memory in the front hall of the school for all to see:

“To look up and not down; to look forward and not back; to look out and not in; and to lend a hand.”

Although the y never knew each other, Gene and Patsy McNichols and Jimmy Lee had much in common. And all of us are better off thanks to their compassionate leadership and genorosity.

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