Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf will always be remembered as a war hero and the country’s hero.
But he’ll also be recalled for his acts of kindness and his continued commitment to help those in need, demonstrated by his long-term involvement with a number of charities.
“Norm was a very special person and he gave of himself,” said Al Austin, local developer and Republican stalwart. “He never said ‘No.’ He always helped.
“He might have been a tough guy, but he had a soft heart,” Austin said.
Schwarzkopf’s life and legacy were honored Friday night with a tribute dinner at the Oxford Exchange, 420 W Kennedy Blvd., to recognize the work he and his family have done over the years. Speakers at the event included Austin, Schwarzkopf’s daughter, Cindy Schwarzkopf, and Irene Rickus, president and chief executive officer of The Children’s Home.
Schwarzkopf, who led a coalition of nations in the first Gulf War, died at home Dec. 27. He led U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force base from 1988 until his retirement in 1991.
In Tampa, Schwarzkopf was the city’s first megawatt star military leader. His family has called Tampa home since 1988.
Schwarzkopf helped a number of groups and causes. In Tampa, he was closely associated The Children’s Home, a local organization that helps children and families.
Since 1995, Schwarzkopf was the honorary chair of The Children’s Home Sporting Clays Classic, helping to raise more than $1.5 million for the organization.
The event has now been renamed in his honor.
“He has very deep meaning with us and his legacy will continue with us,” Rickus said. “He and his family have done so much good for us.”
Cindy Schwarzkopf remembered as a child how she saw her father move an audience when he spoke. Years later, she’d see him lead his country in war.
He was charismatic, charming, sincere and authentic, she said. “He had a presence that filled a room no matter how large or how small,” Cindy Schwarzkopf said.
He had a passion serving others and wanted to give back, she said. “He spent his entire life in some way in service to his fellow man.”
Austin called him “the greatest person I ever knew.”
“He was the hero of our time,” Austin said. “He was a role model.”