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Monday, Oct 20, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Levy brothers are a present to all of Tampa

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He was tall, and he polished his head so that it glistened in the sun. Most of the experts figured he was somewhere on either side of 100, but if you were in central casting looking for an old guy, Charlie was your man.

v v This week was J. Leonard Levy's 80th birthday, an impressive milestone if not all that unusual.

This week was also George Levy's 80th birthday. I think George is younger than his brother by about 30 seconds, although it could be the other way; I never remember.

Technically I suppose you could keep the numbers separate. But for our town, what we've been given is 160 years of community service, and that's worth noting today.

There really are two Levy brothers, although there are people who suspect one is a "doppelganger,"' sort of an evil look-alike who we all may have somewhere on this planet.

And it's true there are rumors of the twins switching classes and even dates back in their younger days growing up, but I'm sure those things are in the past.

There have been other incidents, such as avoiding the media by claiming one was the other. They have different styles. George is more laid back. When he was in the Army he made private. Leonard was a Marine officer.

There still are those twin moments, like when one had a gall bladder operation a few years ago and the other came to the hospital to visit.

Walking out of his brother's room a few minutes later, you can imagine the reaction of the nurses and interns who thought their patient was checking out of the hospital only minutes after surgery.

There are ways you can separate the pair. One (George) owned a trophy shop and the other (Leonard) a printing company. I know George a little better having had him as a tennis partner for years and can see that "What do we do now?" look in his eyes.

But together they have made a difference to so many others.

Both were heavily involved in bringing professional football to Tampa. It was Leonard who got the word from the NFL commissioner that the Bucs were coming.

Both have been recognized, separately, as citizens of the year and honored for their ethics in business and work for so many organizations.

It's a long list that includes the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Gold Shield Foundation, Alpha House, the Centre for Women, Salvation Army and literally dozens of others.

Both have been active in activities ranging from Hillsborough Community College Board of Trustees (George) to spending years on the NFL task force (Leonard).

They are good guys, finding jobs for young people and getting involved in education.

There's plenty more, but we don't want two swelled heads on just one birthday, even if it is 160 years.

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