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2008 John Young History Maker Celebration

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Sherry Meadows Lewis / Phone: (407) 836-8595 / Email: sherry.lewis@ocfl.net

Dr. Philip Phillips, past; J. Charles Gray, GrayRobinson, P.A., present; Orange County High School Senior, $5,000 scholarship recipient, future

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 10, 2008) - J. Charles Gray, GrayRobinson, P.A., will receive the Historical Society of Central Florida's highest honor at the fourth annual John Young History Maker Celebration on May 7, 2008, at the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando, Fla. The John Young History Maker Award, named after Captain John Young, is given each year to a Central Floridian whose lifetime of achievement has made a historic impact on the community.

For the first time, in 2008, the Historical Society will recognize three History Makers - Past, Present, and Future:
  • The John Young History Maker Present Award recognizes Gray for his lifetime of achievement that has made a historic impact on the community, its citizens, and our country.
  • The John Young History Maker Past Award recognizes Dr. Philip Phillips, a historic Central Floridian whose achievements are still felt in the community.
  • The John Young History Maker Future Award gives greater recognition to the winner of the $5,000 History Maker Scholarship, whose contributions will impact the community in the future.

Sara Van Arsdel, executive director of the History Center, said the Historical Society is particularly excited about this fourth celebration honoring three history makers. "Our mission is to honor the past, explore the present, to shape the future, so we feel expanding the celebration to honor historic individuals from the past, present, and future is so fitting and will be meaningful to the community."

J. Charles Gray, a native of Central Florida, has been one of the architects of the community's success. Active in civic, governmental, and political affairs for more than four decades, he currently serves as the Chairman of the Board and founding director of the law firm GrayRobinson, P.A. Throughout his legal career, Gray has played a key role in the development of Central Florida. He has served as City Solicitor for the City of Orlando, Chairman of the Florida State Turnpike Authority, Chairman of the Economic Development Commission of Mid-Florida, and Chairman of the University of Central Florida Foundation. As County Attorney for Orange County, he was involved in developing the county's Tourist Development Plan, the Orange County Civic Convention Center, and the Orange County Comprehensive Growth Plan.

Dr. Philip Phillips began purchasing land in Orlando in 1897 for citrus groves and development and, at one time, was the largest individual owner of citrus real estate in the world. Within the citrus industry, Dr. Phillips was an innovator, replacing human labor with mechanization in his packing house and revolutionizing the citrus industry by canning citrus juice without loss of flavor or nutrition during the 1927-28 season. Dr. Phillips patented the process and made it available to the whole industry because he believed the future of the Florida citrus industry depended on it. In the 1950s, recognizing that proper health care for black citizens of Central Florida was almost non-existent, Dr. Phillips was instrumental in establishing the Dr. Phillips Memorial Hospital and encouraging black doctors to relocate to Orlando. Thanks to his success in citrus and development, Dr. Phillips quietly gave generously to support charitable needs in Central Florida until his death in 1959, and his philanthropy continues today through the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation.

The Historical Society of Central Florida will announce the recipient of the 2008 John Young History Maker Future Award, which includes a $5,000 scholarship, at the May 7 celebration. The scholarship is awarded annually to one outstanding Orange County public high school student. The award is granted in the name of Captain John Young to a graduating senior planning to attend a four-year university and major in the sciences. The winner is chosen based on criteria including their embodiment of the Historical Society's mission.

The gala event is the Historical Society's largest fundraiser and is expected to draw more than 500 guests. Last year's event raised nearly $90,000 for the Historical Society of Central Florida. This year's event is expected to exceed last year's revenue. Funds raised from the event support nationally important exhibitions and educational programs that served more than 146,000 children and adults in the community last year alone.

Located in the restored 1927 Orange County Courthouse, the Orange County Regional History Center houses a variety of dynamic changing and permanent exhibitions. The History Center is accredited by the American Association of Museums, the highest honor a museum can receive, and is also an Affiliate of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution.

Individual tickets for the gala event, including reception at 5 p.m., ceremony at 6 p.m., and dinner in the museum at 7 p.m. are available to Historical Society Members for a $175 contribution and non-members for a $225 contribution, along with Contributor Tables starting at $2,500. For more information and pricing, call (407) 836-8546. Please note The History Center will be closed to the public on May 7 for the John Young History Maker Celebration. Guests of the celebration are encouraged to use complimentary valet parking on Court Avenue. For more information about the 2008 John Young History Maker Celebration, please visit www.thehistorycenter.org.


The Orange County Regional History Center is financed in part by Orange County Government through the Department of Health & Family Services under Orange County Mayor Richard T. Crotty and the Board of County Commissioners, The Historical Society of Central Florida, Inc., United Arts of Central Florida with funds from the United Arts Campaign and by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts: Division of Historic Resources and Bureau of Historical Museums.