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Economy / Business

Bay Area Philanthropist Olin Mott Dies at 92

Amie Blodgett
USF News

Local businessman and philanthropist Olin Mott has died at the age of 92.

Mott, who dropped out of school after sixth grade to sell peanuts to help support his family during the Great Depression, created the Bay area tire store chain that bears his name after serving in World War II. 

Mott had been wounded during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and received a Purple Heart. He later served in Army-Navy Intelligence and was the last survivor of his 80-man unit.

Mott also co-founded Joshua House, a shelter for abused or abandoned children, and was instrumental in securing the location of USF's Tampa campus as well as in bringing football to the university.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam called Mott a true hero, especially for thousands of Tampa Bay area children, in Putnam's words, "where he started programs to rescue them from abuse, tutor them, mentor them and help them succeed. Mr. Mott dedicated his life to serving youth in his community, and his contributions will forever be remembered.”

Mott was honored last November by the city of Tampa and USF's College of Education for his philanthropic support of a large number of Bay area organizations and charities.

Speaking at the college's 16th Annual "Education in Action" Luncheon, Mott said he gave so much time and money to programs like the College of Education, particularly its Tutor-A-Bull tutoring efforts, with just one thing in mind: the future of young people.

"Youngsters today have more opportunity than anyone ever in the history of this country has got. They can move forward, just get the education, that's the main thing. Without that, there's no hope," Mott said.

Mott also served on the Florida State Fair Authority for almost 30 years and received the Tampa Metro Civitan Club Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award in 2011.

However, Mott never was one for awards or honors. When asked last year how he would like to be remembered, he said with a laugh, "I don't think I will be. You think it was a long time getting here, you'll be gone a whole lot longer!"

Mott died Tuesday under hospice care at Sun City Center.

"His kidney was failing," son Rick Mott, told the Tampa Tribune. "He didn't want dialysis. He accepted it. He said, 'I'm 92 years old. I've done enough and I've lived a good life.'"

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