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Publisher's Letter

Publisher's Letter: The Remarkable H. Wayne Huizenga

This issue features a memorial tribute to the remarkable H. Wayne Huizenga. Mostly it relates to his professional success as a builder of Fortune 500 companies and as the man who brought big league sports teams to South Florida.  What is not mentioned in our stories is a side of the man that was obvious to those who worked for and with him in those varied enterprises, and helps explain his generosity to numerous charities. Although he hobnobbed with the rich and famous—including the sports heroes of the Dolphins, Marlins and Panthers—he also cared about the little guy.

Bob Guerin, whose memories of working with Huizenga in the early days of Blockbuster Entertainment are part of our presentation, recalls times when Huizenga was behind on a busy schedule because he took time to talk to ordinary people in the businesses he visited.

“A lot of people in his position would dismiss anyone below their station,” says Guerin, “but Wayne was just the opposite. I saw the way he treated mail room people, ordinary people he came across. He was kind to them. He could yell at his executives, but I never saw him berate anybody who was just working hard to make a living. I learned from him that it never hurts to show a little kindness.”

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We heard much the same evaluation some years back from the late Bob Ingalls. Ingalls, who we first met in the 1970s when he was an investor living in Boca Raton, made a hobby of studying what made successful people tick. When he became a real estate developer in Banner Elk, North Carolina, he heard that Wayne Huizenga was building an elaborate residential complex in nearby Linville Ridge. Ingalls made it his business to learn what the locals thought about the man.

Ingalls knew that the mountain people were often distrustful of rich and snooty Floridians, even as they made money working for them. But not so Huizenga. Ingalls employed some of the same construction crews that Huizenga had used, and he reported that the workers invariably spoke well of the man, whom they found surprisingly friendly and down to earth.

Huizenga’s major charitable giving, such as the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University, is well documented, but he also contributed quietly to many other charities, large and small. Only recently, in the form of a letter published in The Palm Beach Post, was one of the latter revealed. It seems that Huizenga’s wife, Marti, attended a small Catholic church in North Carolina. It announced a fundraising drive to expand the church as its parishioners, mostly summer visitors to the mountains, began to grow.

When Wayne Huizenga learned of the effort, he offered to match whatever funds the church could raise from all its supporters. And he did.

This issue is one of the biggest of our year, and has been for a long time. Top Docs was also a big issue for our longtime advertising rep, Carolyn Wotring Bunn. Over the years she developed many clients among the numerous top medical professionals in our southern magazines, Gold Coast and Boca Life. She was well on the way to signing most of them up for this special issue when she died suddenly in March.

She had some pulmonary issues, but they hardly appeared life-threatening. She was in the office just a day before she felt tired, lay down for an afternoon nap and never woke up.

Farewell gracious and always upbeat Carolyn, and thanks for 18 years of dedicated work.