A child of the Depression, survivor of Pearl Harbor and decorated World War II veteran, Olin Mott was a member of what is commonly called the Greatest Generation. But even among that esteemed group, Mott, who died Tuesday at 92, stood out.
Mott, the founder of a successful tire company, sought to help others with remarkable commitment and enterprise.
As his friend Robert Thomas of Two Rivers Ranch said, "His sense of identity was directly tied to helping others. That's what he would do all day long. He'd try to figure out ways to help those who needed it."
One example is how Mott came up with a way to help the children at Joshua House, a shelter for abused and neglected children.
Mott was a major supporter of the sanctuary, but when he heard about some of the kids acting up in school and having problems with their lessons, he consulted with officials at the University of South Florida College of Education. Together they developed a program where honor students tutored the Joshua House kids, giving them the attention they desperately needed.
The effort proved a remarkable success, and Mott and USF expanded it to the "Tutor-a-Bull" program in at least 20 Hillsborough schools.
With characteristic determination, Mott raised money from numerous local businesses for the program. People knew when Mott came calling, it was for a worthy cause.
He quietly helped countless other causes, particularly those involving children, with the same energy, generosity and instinct for getting to the heart of a problem.
For Mott, who endured his share of health problems with grit and grace in recent years, a positive attitude was the key to success.
He probably would be disappointed in us, but we find it difficult to maintain that positive attitude today with the loss of this big-hearted man who did so much to help our community and who embodied the best of American values.