Benito Middle School opened for the 1997-98 school year and was the first middle school built in New Tampa. It was named for Louis Benito, who was the owner of a successful advertising agency and an energetic community activist. In 1980 he was named “Citizen of the Year”.
Louis Benito was one of a kind. He was the son of Spanish immigrants and a Tampa native who grew up in historic Ybor City. He was a successful businessman, a tireless community activist, and above all, a kind, loving, devoted family man and friend. He truly left an indelible impression on all who knew him, as well as the city he so dearly loved.
As a businessman, Mr. Benito thrived in the advertising business, opening his own advertising agency in 1954. He won hundreds of advertising awards, but perhaps is best known for his work to maintain the Tampa Bay area as a combined three-county region, thus protecting Tampa Bay as one of the top twenty markets in the United States. He was called one of the last gentlemen in the business.
As a community activist, Mr. Benito's accomplishments are too many to name. In the 1960's, he successfully chaired the county's campaign for passage of a tax to improve our public schools, an institution all seven of his children attended. This 1980 "Citizen of the Year" also served as president of almost every Tampa organization including the Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, and Children's Home. Louis Benito was the first inductee into the Tampa Bay business Journal's "Hall of Fame", established in 1988. He had a genuine love for the city of his birth and those who called it home, and worked continually for their benefit.
Most importantly, Mr. Benito was an honest, loving, family man and friend. He was a constant motivator and inspiration--always ready with a kind word or an encouraging note. His friends were many, his enemies none--for Mr. Benito epitomized the characteristics of a true gentleman.
The advertising world owes much to Louis Benito. The city of Tampa owes much to Louis Benito. All of us owe much to Louis Benito, for through his memory we can nurture the knowledge that from humble beginnings greatness can occur, and that kindness, integrity, and a sincere, genuine caring for others are still alive in the world.
Text by Mrs. Odalys Pritchard