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Frank G. Daveler, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur, Dead at 102

By Keith Morelli

Frank & Ellen Daveler

TAMPA (December 9, 2020) -- Frank G. Daveler, a Southwest Florida entrepreneur and philanthropist whose generosity over the past four years has touched the lives of a number of USF students on paths to entrepreneurial careers, died last month in Naples. He was 102.

A gift of nearly $3 million from Daveler and his wife, Ellen, in 2016 established a program to help USF undergraduates prepare to launch successful and sustaining businesses, seeding the Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program at the USF Center for Entrepreneurship housed in the Muma College of Business.

Over the past four years, the program focused on student success by providing financial awards and hosting entrepreneurial competitions among university students from all over West Central Florida. It was the wish of the Davelers to make an impact on entrepreneurs in the beginning stages of their careers.

"Frank and Ellen Daveler have changed the lives of so many young people from across the state of Florida by giving them an opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and pitch their business ideas to a jury of seasoned entrepreneurs,” said Dirk Libaers, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “Frank always stated that it was in the early phase of an entrepreneurial endeavor that the need for financial and non-financial assistance was most critical."

Frank and Ellen Daveler founded an engineering services firm, Associated Industrial Engineers in Pennsylvania. After selling that company, they founded, led and invested in several other engineering, manufacturing and technology companies.

His wife, with whom he had been married for 73 years, preceded him in death.

Daveler chose to donate to USF Center for Entrepreneurship because of its nationally recognized program and its history of graduating successful students and entrepreneurs. The Princeton Review recently ranked the center No. 18 in the nation and No. 9 among public universities.

The Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program offers undergraduates the opportunity to increase their knowledge of business operations and gain insight into the entrepreneurial process in venture creation, venture growth and venture harvesting. In an annual competition, selected students are required to present their entrepreneurial ideas and pitch them to a panel.

Top candidates win cash prizes as seed money for their ideas. Many Daveler program scholars have gone on to create their own venture based on an idea that was developed and presented in the Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program.