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Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018 3 years ago

Sam Shapiro leaves philanthropic legacy

From The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee to The Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center, Sam Shapiro dedicated much of his time to giving back. He died Feb. 15.
by: Katie Johns Community Editor

Sam Shapiro believed in giving back.

Mr. Shapiro, along with his late second wife, Sally, left their mark around Sarasota, including significant legacies at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, the Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center and Art Center Sarasota.

No matter the cause, Sam Shapiro was a philanthropist.

The Longboat Key resident died Feb. 15.

“I think he was a very compassionate person, and he believed that if you were of a fortunate life, that it was your responsibility to give back to the community,” Tom Shapiro, one of Sam Shapiro’s sons, said.

In 1996, the couple created the Sam and Sally Shapiro Sculpture Garden at Art Center Sarasota, where Mr. Shapiro served as a former president. The Shapiros created STEP, the Shapiro Teen Engagement Program at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. Later, they helped bring the Sally and Sam Shapiro Babies & Children’s Medical Center to the Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services campus in Sarasota. Since it opened in 2014, the center has treated 12,000 children.

Phil King, the executive director of the Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center when Mr. Shapiro served on the board, said Mr. Shapiro was warm, dedicated and had a great wit. In fact, when King married his partner, Mr. Shapiro was his best man and witness, along with Betty Schoenbaum.

“Well, Sam was that close to me,” King said. “He was sort of like a father figure to me. Not only were we associated through work, he became a friend and supported me, and when I worked [at Glasser Schoenbaum], he supported me in everything I wanted to do, and Sally was lovely, and they sort of became family.”

Before coming to Sarasota, Mr. Shapiro founded Wayne Steel and served as the company’s president for 35 years.

When Mr. Shapiro wasn’t working or giving back to the community, he enjoyed being with friends, playing bridge and eating at local restaurants. As his sons grew up, he took them on annual fishing trips to Canada.

Mr. Shapiro’s first wife, Ellen Levin Shapiro, died in 1983. His second wife, Mrs. Sally Shapiro, died in 2014. Mr. Shapiro is survived by his blended family: Steve and Tom Shapiro; their spouses; and Pam Wolf, Jill Joseph and Judd Gardner; nine grandchildren; and 14 great grandchildren.

A memorial service, which has yet to be scheduled, is planned in Sarasota.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee at or the Glass Schoenbaum Human Services Center-Sally and Sam Shapiro Babies & Children’s Medical Center at

I’m Katie. I’m the Longboat Observer community editor, which means I cover all people, places and things pertaining to Longboat Key. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 2016 with degrees in journalism and Spanish. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 364.

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