TAMPA — To the nation, he was a war hero. To the Tampa Bay community, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf was a hero for local charities.
The retired Desert Storm commander died at the age of 78 in Tampa, where he was involved in causes ranging from sick and orphaned children to prostate cancer awareness. Friends said he frequently attended fundraisers as a celebrity guest, which allowed charities to raise much-needed funds.
John Osterweil, a Tampa resident who supports the military through various charities, got to know Schwarzkopf in 1989 when their sons became friends. Over the years, Osterweil and Schwarzkopf attended football games together, played tennis and attended charity events around the city.
Once, when Osterweil’s wife was in charge of fundraising for the Tampa Museum of Art, Schwarzkopf agreed to be a guest celebrity at a $1,000-a-plate dinner. The museum raised $50,000 that night, Osterweil said.
“By his presence alone, organizations were able to raise sizeable chunks of money,” he said. “He was very gracious about that, very willing.”
Schwarzkopf spent much of his time working on children’s causes including the Ronald McDonald House and The Children’s Home in Tampa, which provides family support services and aids in foster care adoptions.
He and late actor Paul Newman co-founded Camp Boggy Creek in central Florida, a summer campground for kids with life-threatening illnesses.
“I may have made my reputation as a general in the Army and I’m very proud of that,” he once told The Associated Press. “But I’ve always felt that I was more than one-dimensional. I’d like to think I’m a caring human being. ... It’s nice to feel that you have
An avid fisherman, hunter and skeet shooter, Schwarzkopf also served on the board of the Nature Conservancy.
Schwarzkopf and his wife also owned a home in Telluride, Colo., where he was on the board of directors for the Telluride Foundation, a group that raises money for local charities.
He was also active in raising awareness about prostate cancer as a national spokesman for the cause; in 1994, he was diagnosed with the affliction and was successfully treated.