MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Institute of Technology announced today a $1 million gift from the Foosaner Foundation to benefit the former Brevard Art Museum, which formally merged with the university this summer. It will become the FOOSANER ART MUSEUM effective immediately.
“The Foosaner family has a long history of philanthropy in Brevard,” said Florida Tech President Anthony J. Catanese. “This generous gift will help perpetuate the important efforts of education and cultural enrichment started by the museum in 1978, and now continued by Florida Tech.”
Samuel J. Foosaner, a prominent New Jersey tax and estate planning attorney with a home in Cocoa Beach, spent much time in Brevard. A noted philanthropist and author, Sam started the Foosaner Foundation in 1980 in memory of his just deceased wife, Renee. She had been both an ardent student of the arts as well as a teacher of the arts to the neighborhood children in New Jersey. Thus, the foundation’s first major gift made possible the purchase of a 6,000 square foot building adjoining what was then the existing original, small museum. This was named the RENEE FOOSANER EDUCATION CENTER and the building was remodeled to accommodate an extensive program of studio classes where both children and adults now study and create their original artwork. Sometime thereafter the art museum itself expanded across the street into the former Eau Gallie Police Department building.
Sam Foosaner died in 1988 but his foundation has continued through the years led by his only child, daughter, Dione L. (Dee) Negroni-Hendrick, who said that it is very appropriate that the foundation’s first substantial donation to the museum more than three decades ago is bookended by today’s major gift that will close out the Foosaner Foundation.
Dee Negroni-Hendrick said, “Often through my growing up and adult years I heard my dad say that he had been blessed by God throughout his life, and indeed, he had been. He had a wonderful marriage, a family to be proud of, and great success in both his law career and his real estate investments. So it was no surprise to hear him say frequently that he was ‘in the payback period’ of his life.”
In the ensuing 23 years since Sam Foosaner’s death, the Foosaner Foundation has supported many charitable organizations ranging from everyday societal needs (food banks, homes for abused children, reading programs, etc.) to the arts and cultural pursuits necessary for a well-rounded education and an appreciation for that which distinguishes humans from lower animal life. Thus, music, theatre and art have all benefitted from the Foosaner Foundation’s charitable giving.
“You don’t have to be wealthy to help others,” Negroni-Hendrick added. “If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford to make financial gifts of any amount, you should feel good about doing so. But if not, we are all blessed with time and talents that we can share with others.”
During his life, Samuel J. Foosaner also served on the Florida Tech Board of Trustees. Subsequent gifts from his family foundation have supported the main campus of the university as well, including a pedestrian bridge in his memory and a gazebo in the Botanical Gardens.
The merger with the Brevard Art Museum is the latest example of Florida Tech expanding its creative and artistic offerings in recent years. Also notable, the university opened the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts in 2009, the only center of its kind in Florida.