MELBOURNE, FLA.—It took Florida Institute of Technology Founding President Jerome P. Keuper just a matter of months to begin the university 51 years ago. A no-less dedicated committee of five devoted three years raising funds for a life-size bronze statue of Keuper, which was unveiled at the university’s annual homecoming celebration recently.
The committee just this fall reached its goal of $71,500 for the statue, which was created by renowned sculptor Ed Jonas. Although working now in his studio in Tallahassee, Jonas has a hometown connection. He’s originally from Merritt Island and his parents today reside in Viera. This is his first statue in Brevard County.
A nice touch was the unveiling by daughter of the founding president, Melanie Keuper, a committee member and Malabar resident. She was just a tot when her father conceived and began Florida Tech, originally known as Brevard Engineering College.
Other committee members included Denton Clark. Manager of the RCA missile test project in the late 50s and Keuper’s boss, Clark was also one of the university’s first trustees. Also fund-raising were Gene Buzzi, a 1965 graduate; Joe Brett, former owner of Gator Chrysler and a good friend of Jerry Keuper’s; and Gene Fetner, who knew Keuper since at least 1957.
“The committee worked tirelessly to fund this commemorative of Jerry,” said Ken Droscher, executive director of the Florida Tech Alumni Association. “I know it’s very gratifying for them to finally see it standing now behind the current Florida Tech president’s office. We all appreciate the generosity of the contributors.”