Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce
Boss of the Year Nomination: Dennis R. DeLoach Jr.
Founder and Partner, DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A.
Founder and President, Seminole Title Company
“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
--Dennis R. DeLoach Jr.
While working for the law firm of Fisher & Sauls, P.A. in 1965, Dennis R. DeLoach Jr. transferred to their Seminole office, where in 1970, his passion for the community led him to help form the City of Seminole and serve as its first co-city attorney along with the late Bill Dunlap. Six years later, Dennis left Fisher & Sauls, P.A. to open his own law firm in Seminole and that pivotal decision and vision have led to hundreds of people being employed by either the law firm, title company or E.J. Bickley Trust (a private family trust).
As a boss, he treats his employees with dignity and respect. People value their employment, and the longevity of employees is a testimony to his genuine and caring leadership. For example, his long-time paralegal recently retired after 28 years of service. When he retired after 40 years, Peter T. Hofstra said, “I cannot adequately express in words the thanks I have for my partner, Dennis R. DeLoach Jr. We have worked closely throughout my entire career and I do not remember ever arguing with one another! Not many partners can say that. Dennis has been my boss, my mentor, and my partner. I wish him nothing but good thoughts.”
His high level of integrity, honesty, sincerity and work ethic serves as an example for all employees. Former firm administrator Ken Burke (1983–2004), now Clerk of the Court, exclaimed “I owe any professional success I have achieved to Dennis. What he has taught me is beyond compare. I often ask, “what would Dennis do?” In the community many people express with pride “Mr. DeLoach is my attorney.” This makes you feel good about the man you work for.
Dennis has an excellent rapport with employees. He has encouraged people to achieve their goals even when it may not be in the best interest of the firm. For example, two key employees went back to school to become teachers. It would have been in the best interest of the firm for them to stay but he instead supported their personal and professional goals. When preparing this nomination, I learned of many great acts he privately performed for the staff during times of personal crisis such as the death of a spouse or parent, cancer, surgeries, or spouses losing their jobs. Enclosed with this nomination are several nominations of support re-counting such personal stories.
In addition to the many contributions to his staff’s personal and professional growth, Dennis has been and continues to be a major contributor to the Greater Seminole Area:
Co-legal counsel on the formation of the City of Seminole
For many years represented the Seminole Volunteer Fire Department
Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Seminole
Founding Director of Seminole Bank
Founding Director of First Home Bank
Member of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce since 1964 (first as part of Fisher & Sauls, P.A. and then as DHC and STC)
Founder of DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A.
Co-founder of Seminole Title Company
Past Mr. Seminole
Major contributor to Lurie Building to house Seminole Chamber of Commerce at Seminole Campus of St. Petersburg College
Past member of the Committee of 100
Founding member of the Seminole Tuesday Club
Contributor to numerous Seminole activities: Seminole Stampede, Seminole Pow Wow, Miss Seminole Pageant, Kids Appreciation Day, and Music in the Park
Dennis will always remark that the success of his companies is due to his staff, not him. It is this type of selfless, generous leadership that makes him not only boss of the year, but boss of a lifetime. It is with great honor that I, along with numerous colleagues, nominate Dennis R. DeLoach Jr.
Simone Bennett DeLoach
Director of Marketing
DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis P.A. and Seminole Title Company
Supplemental Nominations from Staff
DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A
Jill Iacopelli, retired Paralegal to Dennis R. DeLoach Jr. (1989–2017)
I am so fortunate to have worked for Dennis R. DeLoach, Jr., for 28 years as his paralegal before I retired at the end of 2017.
I use the word fortunate as it was truly the best years of my career. Dennis is the epitome of a southern gentlemen. His work ethic and professionalism are qualities that many never attain.
He guidance pushed me to continually grow in my career, resulting in working partnership with him with mutual respect. He is never one to take sole credit for the success of the firm. He is always there with encouragement and praise to all employees.
Being a working mom, it was so refreshing to work for someone who put family first. There was never any question if you had to take a day off or leave the office early due to a family situation. And when those situations did occur, Dennis would always call and check to make sure everything was alright and to ask if there was anything he could do or if you needed something. He wasn’t calling to ask when you were coming back or why something wasn’t done, he was calling because he genuinely cared.
Six weeks after I began working for him, my husband had a catastrophic injury while working, and was hospitalized for nearly a month, with many subsequent hospitalizations during the following two years. I am so thankful that during this challenging time in our lives that Dennis was my boss! I do not believe that I would have made it through with outside is financial and emotional support. I missed so much work, but I was never docked one dime from my paycheck. I was able to come and go as I needed during that time. He was continually asking if I needed anything, cash or otherwise.
This was same when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and then again when I had surgery for 3 brain aneurysms, again being out of the office for long periods of time.
When anyone else in our firm had emergencies or situations, Dennis was one of the first people in our firm to approach that person and ask if they were ok and if they needed anything. If something was needed, he was always there to help!
In today’s world, this is something that is rarely seen. Working with Dennis was truly a wonderful experience, not only was he my boss, he was truly my friend!
April Ellison, Probate Paralegal (1993–present)
I've known Mr. DeLoach for over 25 years and have worked for him on and off over that time.
In the beginning of my time working for him, Mr. DeLoach was the first person to give me a shot at a professional job when I had no experience. Over the years as my family grew and conditions changed, I went out to seek other opportunities. Then through the years as I needed or wanted to make a job change, he always welcomed me back to the firm. Each time it was like coming home. That's what Mr. DeLoach means to the firm and to me, he makes it not just a place to work but a family.
Recently my family and I have faced some real-life challenges. I lost my father this past year and my husband lost his job unexpectedly. When my dad became sick, I went to Mr. DeLoach and told him that I needed a leave of absence to care for my dad and help my mom. He didn't hesitate. He told me that whatever I needed, he and the firm would be there to support me. During my dad's illness is when my husband lost his job which put a strain not only on or finances but challenged all our spirits. I needed to come back to work but still needed flexible time to visit doctors with my parents. Mr. DeLoach didn't hesitate in having me back to work and assuring me that I could take all the time needed to attend to my family.
After my dad past away, I was out for an entire week. This was one of the most challenging times for us. Mr. DeLoach without my asking, paid me for the week that I was out taking care of arrangements and grieving with my family. This brought me to tears. Additionally, during this same time my husband was still looking for work, Mr. DeLoach was kind enough to offer my husband some contract work that allowed us to make ends meet financially. This was a blessing. There is story after story of how Mr. DeLoach has helped not only his work family but the community. Being a rock to lean on, a caring voice of reason, a strong leader who steps up to meet challenges and a kind soul.
Mr. DeLoach is a true gentleman who knows when to be firm and when to be gracious. He is consistent with all the employees at the firm and beloved by all. Truly a renaissance man.
Paul R. Cavonis, Injury Law and Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney (1995–present)
It’s difficult to convey in a short paragraph how much Dennis means to me and everyone in the office. He personifies the strong, compassionate leader. He believes in all of us, even when we may not believe in ourselves. That belief, that we are capable of important things, gives us the confidence to do important things. Because of his vision, our office has had much success. We all look up to Dennis. He has created a home-away-from home for his work family. For that, and all of his other innumerable qualities, our office is a wonderful place to be.
Emiline Mosher, Receptionist and Administrative Assistant (1995–2022)
I had to reflect about my years of working for Mr. DeLoach. As I write this, so many, many thoughts go through my mind. I can truthfully, and from the heart say, it would be hard to find a more honest, hardworking man. Mr. DeLoach is a man of integrity and I am a better person for knowing him. I began working at DHC in 1995 after being out of the workforce for many years. I was raising my son. When I returned needless to say I was apprehensive, quite frankly “scared”. I began as the receptionist and Mr. DeLoach took the time to allow me to begin clerical work for him. The first time I began listening to dictation we you can only imagine. He would review my draft, make the necessary changes and give it back. We went back and forth a lot! He was kind, patient, and encouraging. He taught me (if you will). Mr. DeLoach took the time to help me reach what he believed, was a greater potential for me than I knew. At times, he will say, after I take a finished work to him in 10 min. “See, Emiline, remember when you began how it took all day!” I will always be grateful and again, because of his “gentle spirit”, I am a better person. I have tears now and could go on as he has been there in times of loss and times of hoy but always there not only in person but heart.
Karen Snyder, Real Estate Paralegal (1997–present)
I have had the privilege and pleasure to work for Mr. DeLoach over the past 21 years. His business ethic and professionalism have always been steadfast. In fact, I have learned from his guidance and have become a better person.
Jeri Harig, Commercial Litigation Paralegal (1999–present)
I would like to nominate Mr. Dennis DeLoach for Boss of the Year. I have worked at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis for 19 years, going on 20 in October. I consider myself fortunate to work for the firm and Mr. DeLoach. He is someone who truly cares about his staff and its shows in the many employees that have 15+ years here which I think says a lot about this firm. It seems now and days you do not have employees that are around that long with one place. His expertise, leadership, and the success he has achieved is truly commendable and he is so deserving of this award and recognition.
D. “Rep” DeLoach III, Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law attorney (2001–present)
I've always loved my dad's work ethic. One of the main reasons why I got into the practice of law is I knew my dad loved it. He worked nights and weekends to help build his practice starting in the 70s, and I really loved that because he was the master of his fortune. He was the master of his fate, and he knew that he loved working hard and helping families out. I thought, "Well jeez, if you can go to work and you can help people out and you enjoy what you're doing, sign me up.”
Really one of the things I love about the practice of law is I still get to show up. I get to go see my father and work with him on a daily basis. We get to sit down. We get to talk about the issues that we're facing. He gets to tell me some of his experiences and I get to give him good advice now based upon my knowledge as well. Most people never have that opportunity in their life, and I can truly say that I love that. That's one of the best things I love about practicing law.
Judy Matthews, Probate Paralegal (2003–present)
First of all, let me start with the fact that Mr. D is a “true Southern gentleman” in every sense of the word. I have had the pleasure of working with and for him for over 17 years during which time, he has always made me feel as if we are on the same team asking for my input while working with clients that I found sometimes exhausting. Mr. D has shown compassion to all of his clients that we have worked with together over the years. One trust beneficiary in particular (I cannot name her name for confidential reasons) he has responded to her every need in helping her through the years after the death of her mother and did everything he could as Trustee to see that her standard of living continued in the same manner as she had during her mother’s lifetime.
Mr. D has had clients we have worked with over the years either in nursing homes or assisted living facilities and he has always taken a personal interest in their wellbeing, their health and living conditions.
Should I ever need someone to see that I am comfortable and would require any type of assistance, medical, living, etc. he would be the first one I would want to call.
I cannot say enough good things about Mr. D, he has always been considerate of me and Harry (Judy’s husband), I truly love this guy. Thank you for asking me to contribute.
Tammy Dina, Estate Planning and Elder Law Paralegal (2005–present)
Mr. DeLoach is an amazing man. He is always the first to refuse credit for the success of the firm. Instead, giving credit to the staff for all we do to help make the firm successful. He comes to work every day, always appearing happy and grateful to be able to walk through the doors for another day of work. And, I’ve never met anyone so quick to reach into their own pocket when they see others in need. I have seen this with clients and with staff members. More than once, I have seen him pull money out of his own pocket to help a client or staff member who had fallen on hard times. Once, when I decided to take in a local foster child that needed a home, he immediately came over, gave me a big hug and, no surprise…. snuck some money into my hand to “help out” and thanked me for doing what I was doing to help this child in need. The list of kindnesses I have seen are too long to detail but my favorite thing is that each and every morning when he comes into the office, this 40-year veteran attorney, stops by to see Rep (his son) and give him a big hug. It always warms my heart to see this and makes a great start to each day. Bottom line: we are SO lucky to have such a kind, humble, grateful, hardworking, and dedicated leader…. with a heart of gold.
Jennifer Rosenberg, Injury Law Paralegal (2005–present)
Since I started with the firm in June 2005, I have known Mr. DeLoach to go out of his way to treat others with kindness and professionalism. Most of us who have been here for a while know that Jill Iacopelli was a very recent hire when her husband suffered a serious injury. Mr. DeLoach assured her that her mortgage would be paid, and she could take all the time she needed to see to her children and family, and that she needn’t worry about money or her job. That act of kindness and generosity set the tone for a long professional relationship between him and Jill.
When Tammy Tolsma became responsible for her granddaughter Lily virtually overnight, Mr. DeLoach handed Tammy cash out of his own pocket for the baby’s basic necessities, which helped Tammy quite a bit during an extremely tumultuous time. I have known him to do the same for a number of clients in need, as well.
After the birth of my first child on January 1, 2011, I decided to become a stay-at-home mother. Despite the fact that I had not actually worked during the month of January, but had merely been on maternity leave, the firm paid my hospital bills so I would not be stuck with the massive deductible associated with having had a child on the first of the year.
For years Mr. DeLoach has been extremely supportive of my efforts as a writer. He frequently asks how my writing is going, and always has a compliment or a word of encouragement. Every now and then he emails me helpful links to improve my writing, and it is touching to know that he thinks of me.
He has a great sense of humor, too, which I’m not sure everyone knows. When he told the office, he did not need Christmas gifts, and I emailed him a photo of the “Proud Liberal” tee shirt I had intended to buy him, he appreciated the joke.
When I was struggling with a member of management a number of years ago, Mr. DeLoach maintained an open-door policy where I always felt safe discussing issues and concerns. I never feared judgment or retaliation, because I knew Mr. DeLoach was a fair-minded man of integrity.
He frequently stops by my office to chat with me and my colleagues about our work, or about current events. Despite being on completely opposite ends of the spectrum politically, Mr. DeLoach always listens to my perspective, and he is one of the only conservative Republicans with whom I can have a civil conversation! He is truly gentlemanly and treats all of the women in this office with the utmost respect.
Mr. DeLoach has built a firm that values family, honesty, hard work, and kindness, and that is why I have stayed with this company for so long, and why I wanted to return to work here after my divorce in 2016. I’ve personally been granted a great deal of flexibility as a single mother, and as an employee, it inspires loyalty. Mr. DeLoach has always made me feel valued. I hope that when he looks back at his legacy, he knows just how much good he has done for a great many people. I am proud to be employed at his firm.
Lorry Feldmeyer, Probate Paralegal (2011–present)
Mr. DeLoach has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. He is always concerned about his employees and their families, etc. He has often provided me with research materials and articles he has found regarding health issues that I have.
He shows concern with clients as well. In one instance a gentleman came in and he had ridden his bike here and it had a bad tire. He really had no money to repair his bike. Mr. DeLoach told him to go down the street to the bike shop and tell them to fix it and send the bill to him.
He is this way will all his clients. He always wants to help and will go above and beyond to do so. He is a great kind-hearted man and we are so lucky to have him in our lives.
Joseph “Joe” Murphy, Real Estate and Civil Litigation Attorney (2012–present)
As a practicing attorney for more than 50 years, Mr. DeLoach ("DRD") embodies the ideals of both a successful attorney and model employer. At times working for a discounted or waived fee, DRD truly listens to the needs of his clients and provides sound legal advice to assist those individuals. DRD and the partners of DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A. also make the financial welfare of their employees a top priority. At times, DRD has even forgone an end of the year bonus just to ensure the employees received same. His genuineness continues to lead by example every single day and he has provided me with quite the example for the type of attorney I strive to become. I am proud to call DRD my boss!
Gloria Centonze, Elder Care Coordinator (2013–present)
When you start working for someone you hope that you’ve not only chosen the right job for yourself but also the right person to guide you through your job. A boss can be defined by many words, I always look for not only what I see physically but become more interested in how they really conduct their life. Who this person really is, do they possess integrity, sincerity, kindness, compassion for what they do and compassion for others. For the past six years I have had the honor of working with and for that man. Mr. Dennis DeLoach has not only been a mentor but more importantly a person in my daily work life that reminds me to strive for excellence each day and to be a better person. This in my opinion is the definition of a true boss.
Christine O’Neil, Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney (2016–2022)
When I was still relatively new to the firm, DRD had me join him in for a trust administration consultation with substantial creditor issues. I prepared for it, just in case he had me take the reins, and sure enough that is what he did. I really appreciated this, because it allowed me to apply what I learned and gave me an opportunity to show him what I could do. And, of course, he was there to help if I needed it. A sign of a good leader is having faith in your fellow coworkers, and I feel like he trusts me to do my job well. At the same time, I feel comfortable seeking his advice when I need it. You can’t get his experience from a book.
Sharon Touchton, Paralegal to Dennis R. DeLoach Jr. (2017–present)
I have worked for Dennis DeLoach for only two years, but when he walks into the room he brings with him an aurora of compassion, sincerity and knowledge. I have seen this wonderful man take money out of his own pocket and give it to a client that didn’t have enough gas in her car to get home. He is always there to listen to our problems and help in any way he can. I have to say, that working with Mr. DeLoach is one of the best things that has happened to me.
Jerry Kleber, Chief Operating Officer (2018–present)
I am a recent transplant from Indiana and have a 17-year career helping partners and owners manage their law firms. I joined DeLoach Hofstra & Cavonis In March of 2018. I can now state unequivocally that the opportunity to work with and for Dennis DeLoach has been the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I can’t imagine there is a finer person or law firm to work for, and that’s mainly due to Mr. DeLoach’s approach to serving his employees and his clients. He has shown an unrelenting passion to do the right thing, regardless of the business or personal cost. In my opinion, the success of his law firm can be directly attributed to Mr. DeLoach’s character; the way he acts and treats his employees and conducts himself in business and in his personal life. I am proud to call Mr. D my boss, and I am humbled to serve such a great man and law firm.
Becky Brandt, Probate Paralegal (2018–present)
One thing that always touched my heart was that when my mom worked here, DRD would bring her in articles regarding different treatments for rheumatoid arthritis for her because he knew that she suffered from it. I know it meant a lot to her and it really reflected that his care for his employees was not just about their work product but about the person.
Seminole Title Company
Tammi Hagedorn, Business Development (1995–2021)
In 1993, Dennis R. DeLoach Jr. and Peter Hofstra formed Seminole Title Company which is located in the same building as DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis. Prior to that time, real estate closings had been handled by the law firm. The reason for the success of the title company is due to our commitment to customer service. Dennis has been a role model with his passion for helping others. His vision, inspiration and leadership make him an extraordinary boss and it is a privilege to work for him and with him. He inspires us to be better people with his love for God, love of his family and love for our community. Dennis’ professionalism and integrity have made him a well-respected business owner in Seminole. He cares deeply for his employees and always strives for us to be better. He believes in providing his employees with the tools and knowledge to help us grow and succeed. At 80 years of age Dennis still loves coming to work and his mantra is, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”. We are fortunate and blessed to have Dennis as our leader and he is most deserving of the honor of being named, Boss of the Year.
Pam Alexander, Processor (1997–present)
Dennis is caring, compassionate, generous and fair. He always surrounds himself with good people that has helped to make his law firm and title company what it is today--very successful, well known and has a great reputation. This is proven by the longevity of his law firm since 1976. If you’re not doing a great job you aren’t going to be in business for 42 years! To quote him “We’re in the business of helping people” and “you can never thank someone enough”. I’m thankful he’s been such a great boss for the 22 years I’ve been here!
Pattie Robinson, Processor (1997–present)
Every year at our DHC and STC annual Christmas luncheon Dennis R. DeLoach Jr. gives a prayer of gratitude thanking the employees for all their hard work he credits the employees for his success. He will always say his success is due to the work we provide behind the scenes working for the clients every day. We are blessed with many long-time employees that raise the bar. I am so honored and humbled to be employed by Seminole Title Company for 21 years. I have witnessed vividly the power of our company and the range of skills and capabilities of those around me. I’m learning that in these instances my part is to receive with gratitude rather than pretend I’ve got it all handled. We are stronger together! We are all equipped with unique strengths! Including all that has already been sown within! It means knowing the strengths of those around me, and graciously receiving guidance from Dennis, he is always willing provide direction. Part of being capable is surrounding myself with people who are strong where I am weak and willing to lend a hand when we are in need of direction. I embrace the opportunities that have been bestowed on me. Thank you, Dennis, for being a great role model. We know no glass ceiling because of you.
Dennis also has a private side that is not often shared. He has gone above and beyond for my family with years of guidance and direction. He has helped generations of clients and the City of Seminole his entire career. We have had the pleasure and privilege of representing many clients and we aspire daily to exceed all their expectations and feel blessed to witness the continued commitment of our founding Attorney, Dennis R. DeLoach Jr.
Angela Durham, Bookkeeper and Administrative Assistant (2016–present)
Mr. DeLoach is the “Boss of the Year” because he treats employees like people and not numbers. He shows interest and concern for employee’s personal situations not just their work performance. He is a source of great knowledge for his employees and helps them develop and strengthen their knowledge of practices, laws and procedures which makes them even more valuable as employees. I personally have had Mr. DeLoach express concern and lend a helping hand in a personal issue I had. I know of many instances where he has given to others, even strangers with no expectations in return. A great boss is someone that not only manages their employees but also genuinely cares about them and that is the kind of boss he is.
E.J. Bickley Trust (a private family trust)
Fran McCanney, Financial Administrator (1987–present)
I have known and worked with Mr. DeLoach for 30 years. In that time, I have never known a person who is more caring, generous, or fair than this man. He has always been willing to work with his employees to keep them employed by giving second chances and help to improve their skills. When I was going through my cancer treatments, he was willing to work around my schedule and keep me employed. Even now, I am well past the age of retirement, but he is willing to work with me so that I can continue to work, even though it’s fewer hours. I have been blessed to know and work with Mr. DeLoach.
Susan Traczyk, Assistant Financial Administrator (2011–present)
I would like to nominate Mr. Dennis R. DeLoach Jr. as Boss of the Year. I have been working for Mr. DeLoach for 6 years as an employee of a large trust for which he manages several properties. He treats all of the employees as team members, not just workers. There are many important decisions that come with the management of this trust. When I think of him, the words fairness, integrity, loyalty and honesty come to mind with employees, tenants and his business decisions. Within 6 months of my employment, my husband of 35 years was diagnosed with a fast-moving cancer. He passed away within 6 months. Mr. DeLoach was there with patience, and a caring thought or gesture every one of those days. He is not only Boss of the Year in my eyes, but the best boss I have ever had.