Edward W. Bok
Edward W. Bok enticed people to the heart of Florida with the promise of experiencing the harmony of nature, music and the arts when he created the Historic Bok Sanctuary, a place where people from around the world come to find peace and happiness.
During family visits from their Pennsylvania residence to their winter retreat near Lake Wales, Florida, Mr. Bok became enchanted with the beauty and vistas from nearby Iron Mountain. At 298 feet above sea level, one of peninsular Florida’s highest points, Iron Mountain offered views of dramatic sunsets. Awed by the tranquility of the area, he wanted to create a place that would “touch the soul with its beauty and quiet,” and chose it as the perfect setting for a bird sanctuary. He purchased land to transform into a sweeping landscape of lush gardens featuring a majestic Singing Tower housing a 60-bell carillon. Originally called Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower, he presented this extraordinary gift to the American people Feb. 1, 1929 as an enduring token of his appreciation for the opportunities he had been given.
Jack B. Healan, Jr.
Jack B. Healan, Jr. consistently maintained his vision for betterment of tourism in Florida and was a leading advocate to the legislature and the Governor in crafting the laws and funding sources for the organization that has become VISIT FLORIDA.
Jack is a nationally recognized leader in the hospitality and development industry with over 40 years experience and demonstrated excellence. He served for 10 years as President of the acclaimed Florida resort development, Amelia Island Plantation Company. During his tenure of more than 20 years with Amelia Island, he also held the positions of Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President and General Manager.
Prior to joining Amelia Island Plantation, has been a Director of Florida Hospitality Mutual Insurance Company since 1992. He served as Director of Jacksonville Branch at Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He is also active in many professional associations. He served as President of the Florida Hotel & Motel Association. He served as Directors of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association. He has been a member of the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s Resort Committee since 1988, having served as its chairman in 2003. He is a charter member of the Florida Commission on Tourism and Visit Florida, Inc.
Joseph O. Striska
Joseph O. Striska was instrumental in the development of VISIT FLORIDA and was one of the Founding Partners. He served in the Florida camping and tourism business for over 30 years, with a consistent work ethic and leadership style that was not only innovative and creative, but also uniquely his own.
Joseph served as the 1993-2004 President of the Florida Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds; the 1996-2004 Commissioner for the Florida Commission on Tourism; and a 1996-2004 Board Member for VISIT FLORIDA.
After his untimely death, a bill was passed by the Florida legislature in 2005 naming the new I-75 Welcome Center as the Joseph O. Striska Florida Welcome Center in honor of his life-long achievements in promoting Florida tourism.