Faith, family and hard work are the values instilled in David in his native Wisconsin. His father was a dental technician who owned his own dental lab and his mother owned gift and card stores.
David showed an aptitude for business from an early age. He mowed lawns and did other odd jobs while he was in high school. He got a job sweeping the floor and running errands at a bank in his hometown and moved up to working as a teller. He learned business and banking from the ground floor.
He graduated from Marquette University and briefly attended law school before deciding to enter the world of business instead of practicing law.
At just 25 years old, David took his savings and a loan from the bank where he used to sweep the floor and purchased a small bank with just three employees. David owned the bank but he also swept the floors, waited on customers, did the bookkeeping, clerked auctions and even slept in the bank’s basement when work days became work nights.
David’s focus on customer service, his strong work ethic and a reputation for integrity and honesty created opportunities for him to expand. Over time, David developed a small network of 26 community banks in southeastern Wisconsin.
David moved to Tampa Bay in 1980 and started building a network of community banks in Florida that eventually grew to 21 branches in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. He also met and married Tampa native Catherine Lowry and settled in Tampa where they raised their daughter.
After the sale of his businesses, David focused more time on the David A. Straz, Jr. Foundation. David and Catherine have given back to Tampa through volunteerism and philanthropy in higher education, healthcare and culture. Notably, they are major supporters of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the Lowry Park Zoo, the University of Tampa and many other institutions.
In naming David and Catherine Straz as Best Community Leaders in 2018, Tampa Bay Magazine wrote, “David Straz and his wife Catherine are always in the midst of making positive things occur for our area. Their efforts are not always visible, but they can always accomplish what they set out to do.”