Phone: 727-397-5571

Ken Burke Ribbon Cutting Speech

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House 
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Open House 4–6 p.m. | Ribbon Cutting 4:30 p.m.
8640 Seminole Boulevard, Seminole

Master of Ceremonies Ken Burke, CPA

Master of Ceremonies Ken Burke, CPA

Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller
DHC/STC Office Administrator (1983‒2005)

 

Ken Burke: Welcome to this wonderful event this afternoon where we are officially dedicating this wonderful building here in Seminole, but much more importantly the good people who make up this building here in Seminole.

My name is Ken Burke and I serve as your Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller for Pinellas County, and I'm honored to have been invited to emcee this event this afternoon. I was part of this firm for 22 years, from 1983 until 2005. So I have a strong history and a strong affiliation with the good folks at DeLoach & Hofstra and Seminole Title Company. I want to welcome all of you here on behalf of the title company and the law firm. You all are important parts of this community and an important part of this business enterprise.

There are so many friends here. I'm going to make some introductions, and it's always tough when you make introductions because you always risk leaving someone out. So for those of you, all of you are special here. Everyone here is special and deserves to be introduced. But we have some city officials. You know politicians, they have big egos. You have to introduce them [audience laughs]. We have our wonderful vice mayor, Dr. Jim Olliver. Jim, please stand to be recognized.

We have Councilman Tom Barnhorn. Tom, please stand to be recognized. I know Roger Edelman, another city councilman, is here or... There he is. Roger, great to have you here. We're so fortunate to have our wonderful provost from St. Petersburg College, Dr. Mark Strickland, here. Mark, where are you? I know you're here someplace. There you are. In the back there. We have Allie Bean, our chair of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce. Allie, are you here? There we are. Thank you. And we have a candidate for judge here and that's Megan Roach. You see her big sign over there. There's Megan right there, running for judge.

There are so many people here as part of the family of this law firm and title company. I know there are CPAs here who work with this law firm, representatives from Sabal Trust. We have some bank representatives here. I know the BayFirst representatives are here. We have attorneys from throughout the Seminole community who work with this law firm and lawyers work together. And there are a lot of lawyers here from other firms that we appreciate you being here today. We have realtors. I know from the Seminole Title they really value your realtors being here. We have law firm clients here, friends of the law firm. I want to welcome all of you here to this very special event and thank you for being here.

And this event, you could tell, is tremendously well organized. The big tent, all the check-in, the valet parking, and what you're going to see later on: the cutting of the ribbon. And we have to thank Simone DeLoach. Hopefully, our country will never go to war, but if we ever go to war, she could do the battle plan. She's very detailed. Every part of this thing is very carefully planned. And Simone, tremendous job. Now I want to tell you how special Simone is. Because we talked a few weeks ago and we said the reason why this event was planned for this time of year, she said, it will be cooler then. Yesterday was hot. Today's cooler. Great job, Simone.

I hope you all got to see those beautiful, beautiful cars over there. Those cars happen to be owned by Paul Cavonis and this is his hobby. But the special news I have for you today, as door prizes, each of those cars will be given away. So thank you Paul for giving away those cars [audience laughs].

We also need to recognize the great employees here. All the Seminole Title Company employees. Raise your hand and wave. Over there. and DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis employees. Wave there.

And let's meet the family of the lawyers themselves here and some history here. Obviously, we have Dennis and Faye DeLoach over here, and we're going to talk more about Dennis. But Dennis and Faye, so great to see you. Faye, I love your hat.

We of course have our retired attorney, Peter Hofstra, and his wife Kim. And he's so happy to have his son Peter Zachary with us, and Christian, his grandson. Good to have you here with us too. And Kim, great to have you here. Peter joined this law firm in 1976 as a law clerk. And in 1977, when he became a lawyer and entered the Florida bar, he worked for this law firm as a partner up until his retirement just a few years ago. And Peter, it's great to see you here today.

Paul and Julie Cavonis. And Paul joined this law firm as a law clerk in 1993. I was part of the hiring process for Paul to join the law firm.

Paul Cavonis: Second choice.

Ken Burke: Yeah, you were our second choice. And he keeps telling us that I think the first choice is now in prison. That was Peter who liked that guy. I really liked you, Paul. And then in 1994, Paul passed the bar and, obviously on his first try, joined the law firm as a lawyer, and eventually became a partner. And of course, Paul, what's the slogan we use again for injury law? Come on Simone, what is it? "Help for the Hurt!" There we go. He practices in injury law and he's a board certified trial attorney. So Paul, thank you for your great service as part of this firm.

We have Rep and Simone DeLoach. And Rep of course joined this firm. We did not have an anti-nepotism policy here at this law firm. And you'll see that extended throughout here. He joined the law firm as a lawyer in 2001. He practiced on his own and then we were fortunate enough for him to come to this law firm. He practices in the areas of estate planning and he's a board certified elder law attorney. Rep, congratulations to you.

And then in 2012, as Peter was thinking about his retirement, they brought on Joe Murphy. Joe and his wife Lindsey. And their child's here with us and he practices in real estate and civil litigation. Give it away there Joe. He's expecting his second child in February. So if you come here in 25 years,  he'll be hiring at the firm. 

Now we're getting to some new folks here. In 2022, the firm continues to grow and we have Michelle Lianzo. Did I say that right, Michelle? Did I get close? Oh good. And she is working with Rep as an estate planning and elder law attorney. She has her fiancé, John Waltz, who's also here with us today. 

And we also have Michael Cavonis who just joined the firm as an attorney this past month where he just passed the bar, the first time again. Great. And he's going to be practicing, in probate and probate litigation. So Michael, congratulations, and here's his wife Maggie. 

I also want to recognize Jerry Kleber, who is our operations director for the law firm and the title company, and his wife Kim are here. And also Jerry Gude and Kathy Gude. Jerry, good to have you here. Retired from the firm as operations director.

And let's talk about this firm a little bit, the history of this firm. In 1976, Dennis DeLoach left a well-established firm based in St. Petersburg, although Dennis always practiced in Seminole, and bought a building just a little ways from here, 8486 Seminole Boulevard, which was at that time eight different apartments. And he converted it into a partial office, still renting the other part out as apartments, and started his law firm and brought three employees with him from the established law firm to be part of his team. And start practice, continued his practice, especially in the area of real estate and probate, and had the real vision to establish a firm on his own and have it grow here in this wonderful community.

In 1993, there used to be a building over here. And that building we bought in 1993 and Charlie Block helped us in the purchase of that. He sold it to us and we completely gutted that building. There was nothing left but the walls. And then we put our law firm over there because we were growing at that time. And because at 1993, that same year, we formed the title company under Peter Hofstra's leadership.

And now, from 8486, to the tin building we used to have, to this magnificent structure we currently have, this law firm has made quite an impact on the City of Seminole. But this law firm has much, much more than this building. It's the impact that it's had on this community for many, many years. This law firm has been part of the rich history of Seminole. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure if all of you know this, but Dennis DeLoach was the original city co-attorney for the City of Seminole when it was formed in 1970. Mr. Dunlap and he were both the original city attorneys, when the city was formed. And there's a great picture in the law firm that has the original city council, which Russ Stewart was on, which Jesse Johnson was the honorary mayor, and has the picture of Dennis DeLoach and Mr. Dunlap as the original city attorneys.


Mr. DeLoach was also a founding board director of the Pinellas Education Foundation. This community, this law firm, has always been very involved with our city and with this county. Peter Hofstra served on the Seminole City Council for a period of time. Paul Cavonis served as president of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce. Joe Murphy has also served as an officer and on the board of directors of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce. Rep DeLoach has served on the board of directors of the SPCA. This law firm was a key contributor to the Lurie Civic Building when the Chamber needed it, and was a contributor there to help make that happen. Three Mr. Seminoles at the time who, when we were working for this law firm, were selected as Mr. Seminole. Dennis DeLoach, Peter Hofstra, and me. I slipped in there somehow too. But we are Mr. Seminoles and we're proud of that, in recognition of our community events.

And you can think about the Seminole businesses. We were, out of our law firm building, Seminole Federal Savings Bank was formed. We had our original meetings there, and I know some of the people like Claude and Bob Castles were part of that. I was the one who handled the original escrow for Seminole Federal Savings Bank. That bank was later sold. Those of us who own stock made some money. Do you know that big corporation, which is International Tech Data Corporation, has tens of thousands of employees? Do you know where that corporation was formed? This law firm formed that corporation as a regular $300, prices going up, by the way, $300 startup to a corporation. But that tech data was started. Steve Raymond was president for a long time. What was started by his, actually his dad, Ed Raymond.

First Home Bank, which is now BayFirst, Dennis DeLoach was a founding director. Rep DeLoach is now on the board of directors of BayFirst. Again, integrated a community bank that has its bases here in Seminole. The Bickley Trust, which has been a big part of this firm, and Bay Pines, which that property was sold as part of the Bickley Trust to have that great center now with all the apartments and the Walmart. Well, that land was owned as part of the Bickley Trust. And the Holiday Village Mobile Home Park was the first mobile home park in the state of Florida, which under statute, the residents bought that park. That was the first time that was ever done in the State of Florida under that particular statute.

There's a lot of us here from the Seminole Tuesday Club. Our initial meeting of forming that club was in the conference room at DeLoach and Hofstra. The fire department, coming under the City of Seminole, this law firm had a big hand in that, to making sure that there was accountability of the fire department and therefore it should be put under the professional management of the city manager, Mr. Edmonds at the time.

If you go around this county and you look at condominiums, whether it be Shipwatch, Deerwood Gardens, Shores of Long Bayou. I went by Viewpoint the other morning when I was on my way to work, the Lido on St. Pete Beach. Peter Hofstra was responsible for almost all of those condominium docs that were done in all those places. So if you're like Sandy [Hartmann] and I, remember the old Deck in Madeira Beach? Well, you can blame Peter Hofstra when that was knocked down a condo. He did the condo docs for that. So thank you, Peter. You took our good bar away from us.

But so many of people's business in the city of Seminole, of buying real estate, selling real estate, of conducting business, has been tied to this law firm. And I say that even, and we have St. Petersburg College, obviously. Dr. Olliver and Mark Strickland of the Seminole campus. The Kramer Estate sold part of that land, which Dennis DeLoach was the attorney for in selling that land so that the Seminole campus to the college. And so it just touches every part of this community.

And I mentioned these business items, but way more important than the business items, this law firm and title company have always said they have a responsibility as a community member to always give back. And so whether it be the Seminole Stampede, the Pow Wow Parade, Music in the Park, or sponsorships from all different types of organizations, this law firm has always been very generous in opening up its purse to make sure it's giving back and supporting the Seminole community. It is a great business citizen. And if you look at Pinellas County, a lot of these big businesses, which used to be intertwined with the community, seem to just take care of business and forget that part about giving back. But I'm proud to say, and it's a tribute to you, it's a tribute to Peter and Dennis, that this law firm has always given back to the Seminole community. And I'm sure we'll always continue to do that in the future.

And I think when we talk about this, all that has been accomplished here, we have to talk about Dennis DeLoach. And I'm going to try not to get emotional in this part, but there's a person who had a tremendous vision. All this wouldn't have been made possible without Dennis's vision and his way of handling things. Dennis has a true faith in people. He's a person of tremendous integrity, of professionalism. I felt so good when I went to a chamber luncheon one time and a lady across the table said, Mr. DeLoach was my attorney and he handled my mother's estate. And she just had such pride that Dennis DeLoach was her attorney. He's a person of tremendous modesty. He will hate that I'm praising him in this way, or recognizing him in this way, but he deserves to be.

I can tell you, personally, I owe my whole professional being to Dennis DeLoach. I often ask myself in tough situations, what would Dennis DeLoach do in this situation? And I know if Dennis would do it that way, that was the right way to go. I think my relationship with him, and I served as his administrator for 22 years, and I made my share of mistakes. And I always appreciate the fact that Dennis never remembered your mistakes. He always looked forward to how we go forward. I mean, that's an incredible thing to say about someone who you work for. I mean, just a tremendous individual.

So Dennis DeLoach, I want to say thank you on behalf of the Seminole community for all you've done for this Seminole community. And this vision of having this building is really a tribute to the vision that you had in November 1976 of starting this law firm and the growth that has taken place and for the many people's lives who's been touched by it. Those of us who received paychecks for many years from this law firm entitled company. And for those of you who have been served by it, either as a client or as a member of the community. So let's hear it for our great friend Dennis DeLoach.

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