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Honoring an Airport Legacy: Hernando County Airport Tower Renamed in Memory of Gary E. Schraut

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In a recent Board of County Commissioners meeting, heartfelt discussions occurred regarding renaming the airport tower in honor of the late Gary E. Schraut, who passed away on Oct. 20, 2023. Prior to the meeting, the public was allowed to propose names, and after careful consideration, a committee unanimously selected Gary E. Schraut. The decision reflects Gary’s profound impact on the Hernando County Brooksville BKV airport and the community.

Former commissioner and state representative David Russell passionately voiced his support for the renaming, citing Gary Schraut’s unparalleled dedication to the airport over the past three decades. He emphasized Gary’s pivotal contributions, from bringing the Federal Express to the airport to advocating for the fire station and steering the airport through a name change to Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

Jodi Shinn, the love of Gary’s life and partner, provided a heartfelt testimony, expressing gratitude for the honor bestowed upon him. She portrayed Gary as a tireless worker who considered the airport his “baby” and a vital asset to the county. Jodi recounted Gary’s vision for the airport’s future, his instrumental role in securing Air National Guard operations, and his unwavering commitment to the growth and prosperity of the airport.

Commissioner Steve Champion, a close friend of Gary’s, shared personal anecdotes, emphasizing Gary’s passion for aviation and the county. He moved to name the tower in honor of Gary E. Schraut, a motion that received unanimous approval.

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Commissioner Campbell echoed the sentiments, extending prayers to Gary’s family and acknowledging the intentional efforts that made Hernando County a great place to live, work, and play. Commissioner Narverud thanked Jodi for sharing Gary with the community, acknowledging his outstanding character.

Although relatively new to knowing Gary, Commissioner Hawkins praised his honesty, sincerity and valuable contributions to the community. County Administrator Jeff Rodgers emphasized Gary’s selfless nature, highlighting his significant impact on people’s lives.

Commissioner John Allocco paid tribute to Gary’s unique character, emphasizing his unyielding commitment to the county’s growth. Allocco encouraged expressing appreciation for loved ones, underscoring the importance of recognizing positive contributions.

In addition to his work at the airport, Schraut was a licensed real estate agent and broker. He worked in the local commercial market for over 37 years. He worked closely with Hernando County planning officials on numerous rezonings and was a major player in the development of commercial, industrial, residential, and rural properties in Hernando County. He received the Civic Achievement Award from the Hernando Association of Realtors twice and was named Realtor of the Year in 1999 by the same organization.

The renaming of the airport tower in honor of Gary E. Schraut stands as a testament to a man who dedicated his life to the betterment of Hernando County and its aviation sector. The unanimous decision by the Board of County Commissioners reflects Gary’s profound impact on the community, leaving an enduring legacy that will be remembered every time the tower is seen against the sky.

ABOVE: BKV Airport skyline, Air Traffic Control Tower in the distance. [Credit: J. Maglio]
Summer Hampton
Summer Hampton
Summer Hampton is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in communication focused in culture and media. She is Poynter ACES certified in editing through the Poynter Institute, with a certificate of book publishing obtained through the University of Denver.
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