About the Houses

Byars House Honors Frank and Jo Byars

Previously House A

Frank and Jo Byars were proprietors of one of the Gulf Coast's most delightful cultural attractions - Tiki Gardens.They traveled widely, collecting exhibits and artifacts from the South Pacific for display in the Gardens. Among the treasures they found during their travels was a remarkable collection of rare seashells from around the world, which they gave to Eckerd College in 1994. The collection is now on display in the Galbraith Marine Science Laboratory. Mr. and Mrs. Byars were generous in sharing their wealth with a wide variety of institutions; according to Mr. Byars, his two favorites were Pinellas County's Deaf Service Center, which he served as Chairman of the Board, and Eckerd College, for which he was an Honorary Trustee from 1982 until his death.The Byars were deeply committed to helping young people from around the world.They lost their only child to cancer at age 16 and, to honor her memory, they established the Sherry Jo Byars Endowed Scholarship Fund at Eckerd College. Mrs. Byars died August 20, 1994, and Mr. Byars died October 29 the following year. Eckerd College was the major beneficiary of their estate and received over $3.5 million, the College's largest bequest at the time.


Lukens House Honors Jay Phelps Lukens

Jay Lukens
Jay P. Lukens

Previously House D

At Eckerd College, Dr. Jay P. Lukens was an inaugural Thomas Presidential Scholar and an economics graduate of the Class of 1977. After graduating from Eckerd, he received his Ph.D. in economics from Texas A&M University in 1982.The President and Founder of Lukens Energy Group in 1997, Dr. Lukens was an internationally recognized expert in natural gas markets and regulations. Noting that his education at Eckerd meant everything to him, he stated his election to the Eckerd College Board of Trustees in 2005 was "the greatest honor he had ever received." Dr. Lukens established the Lukens Family Endowed Scholarship at Eckerd in 2005, which is awarded to top economics students who have expressed interest in energy and environmental issues. It was important to Dr. Lukens that he provide the same type of scholarship support to future students that he enjoyed while he was a student at Eckerd College. Dr. Lukens died on October 1, 2006, following a private and courageous battle with cancer.The Lukens Family Endowed Scholarship Fund has been enriched by a significant gift from Dr. Lukens' estate. Dr. Lukens' wife, Susan, and their family reside in Texas.


Wittner House Honors Jean and Ted Wittner

Jean and Ted Wittner
Jean Giles Wittner and Ted Wittner

Previously House C

Jean and Ted Wittner have a long and treasured friendship with Eckerd College. Elected in 1980, Jean Giles Wittner is currently the longest serving member of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees. Having previously served as president of several local banks, Mrs.Wittner is the President of Wittner Companies, an insurance and property management firm, founded and chaired by her husband,Ted. Mrs.Wittner is a director of Progress Energy in North Carolina and Raymond James Bank in Florida.A community leader, she was the first woman elected president of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and was in the inaugural group of women recognized as members of the Pinellas County Business Women's Hall of Fame in 2003. She was also inducted in the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame in 1993. Recognizing the importance of education, Mrs.Wittner is a past chairman and president of the Pinellas Education Foundation. The Wittners established the Wittner Endowed Scholarship at Eckerd College in 1995 to provide need based scholarships with a preference for women who are majoring in business or intend to pursue business careers. In 2006, Mr. and Mrs.Wittner generously funded the Elie Wiesel Endowed Professorship of Humane Letters at Eckerd College.They reside in St. Petersburg, Florida.


Wrenn House Honors Grover and Suzie Wrenn

Grover and Suzie Wrenn
Grover C. and Suzie Wrenn

Previously House B

Grover C.Wrenn was a member of the founding class of Florida Presbyterian College (FPC) and the first chief justice of the honor court. Serving continuously as a Trustee since 1990, Mr.Wrenn was Chairman of the Board from 1995 to 1998. While in college, he was one of two students who participated in the inaugural groundbreaking of the FPC campus.The Wrenns' major gifts to Eckerd College reflect the College's primacy in their philanthropy. Mr.Wrenn is the College's number one alumnus donor. Mr.Wrenn received his M.S. in environmental sciences from the University of North Carolina and was a successful entrepreneur who moved his former company, Accent Health, to the Tampa Bay area in the late 1990s to be closer to the College he so loves. He is a director and chairman of Axotol Corporation, and a former director of Safety-Kleen Corp, EnSys, and Strategic Diagnostics, Inc. Lifelong Presbyterians, Mr.Wrenn and his wife, Suzie, were leaders in establishing the new Lakewood Ranch Presbyterian Church. Mrs.Wrenn is a former State Chair of the Virginia Democratic Party and a graduate of Bryn Mawr College. Mr.Wrenn received the McArthur Alumni Award in 1991. The Wrenns live in Bradenton, Florida.