TAMPA, Fla. (July 3, 2013) — Olin Mott, founder of Olin Mott Tire Stores and known in and around Tampa for his many philanthropic endeavors, died July 2 in hospice care at age 92.
A memorial service for Mr. Mott will be held at the Florida State Fair Grounds in Tampa on Monday, July 8, starting at 1 p.m.
Mr. Mott, the recipient of Tire Business' Tire Dealer Humanitarian award in 2002 for his many philanthropic activities, opened his first tire store, Elkes-Mott Tire Co., in downtown Tampa in 1955 in partnership with a local car dealer.
In 1962 the partnership ended, and Mr. Mott renamed the business Olin Mott Tire Co. He featured U.S. Royal tires and retreads, according to photos posted on the company's website.
He went on to expand the business to six locations in the Tampa area. His son Rick has owned and run the business for more than a decade.
It was Mr. Mott's philanthropic nature, however, that made him well known in Florida.
Among his philanthropic activities:
- Helping to establish and keep running Joshua House, a residential facility in nearby Lutz, Fla., for abused, neglected and abandoned children and teenage moms and their children;
- Serving on the Florida State Fair Authority, including co-founding the Fair's Horse Show Association;
- Supporting University of South Florida athletics and youth soccer;and
- Supporting the Future Farmers of America, the local 4-H Club and other agricultural, environmental and social service activities.
In 2003 he was awarded an honorary Florida Future Farmers of America degree for his "outstanding" support of FFA programs.
Mr. Mott also was instrumental in starting the Michelin-Joshua House Golf Classic held annually for the past 20 years to raise funds for Joshua House and other charities. The event has generated donations exceeding $200,000 each of the past several years.
A native of Coffee, Ga., Mr. Mott was one of eight children who went only as far as the sixth grade. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Kemahameha in Hawaii. He was wounded during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, helping man a machine gun defending the base from the Japanese fighters.
After the war, Mr. Mott and his wife Doris moved to Tampa, where he found work with a local retread equipment maker. He worked there a few years before striking out on his own.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor lauded Mr. Ott in a statement, saying he "loved the Tampa Bay community and devoted his life to helping people.… Our community has lost a great leader and friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family as we all continue to work to honor his legacy."
Those wishing to honor Mr. Mott are being asked to make a donation to the Olin Mott Tutor-a-Bull Endowment Fund, a program that helps pay for students at the University of South Florida's College of Education to spend time tutoring local middle and high school students through the Joshua House, a charity Mr. Mott helped start in 1992.
The university presented him its Champion in Education award last year. A video tribute to him from that ceremony is posted on the university's website.
He is survived by his wife Doris; son Rick; daughter Linda Wren; sister Vassie Sue Wadsworth; and four grandchildren.