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Gary Rodebaugh was a triathlete who lived in St. Augustine, competed internationally. But before he started training ... he was in bad shape. "I was working in Phoenix, Arizona for a major insurance company. Part of my job was to entertain clients and management. We would work all day and then party at night. I bought Wild Turkey by the case, and smoked cigarettes, up to two packs a day."

An event prompted Gary to change the way he lived. "I went into work one afternoon, and my boss came into my office and asked, 'did you hear about Dan?' I said no. 'He had a heart attack last night and died.'

"That scared the bejeezus out of me. I went with another friend to a bar, and at the end of it was the newspaper. There was a notice for the Fountain Valley Marathon. My friend asked, 'you used to swim in college, didn't you?' I said, yeah. 'Can you ride a bike?' Yeah. 'It's 56 miles.' I had no idea what I was getting into."

Gary trained for and completed the race, going from 205 pounds to 165 lbs in half a year. He told his friend he’d never, ever do it again. He was wrong. "Something about doing triathlons and exercise gets into your blood."

Gary ramped up his training. In 2004, he qualified for the U.S. Triathlon team that competes internationally. At that time, Gary was in his late 50s. "My first one was in Madeira, Portugal. This year, I qualified to go to London for the world championship."

Gary Rodebaugh retired in 2010, at age 62, and moved to St. Johns County with his wife, Margaret. "My wife and I use the U.S. Triathlon for vacations. When I go to London, we may spend two weeks traveling around."

Gary incurred injuries to his shoulder, from heavy swimming, and to his legs from a bike crash. But the surgeries and rehab, as the training and races were, were components of his life that couldn't be separated. "Triathlon makes you focus. We know what we want, we know how to get there. Most top triathletes are Type-A personalities — we're goal-oriented, we concentrate n the goal, but we know our limitations."

The World Triathlon championship that Gary Rodebaugh qualified for was held in London in September 2013. Gary swam, biked and ran one of his best races ever, and placed 12th in the world. A week later, after his wife and he returned to St. Augustine, and before he could resume training for his final event of the season, Gary suffered a heart. He died a week later.

But before he passed away, Gary had shifted his priorities — not only for training, but for his entire life. "Everything I did was geared to climbing the corporate ladder. But when I got to the corporate level, I didn't want to do it anymore. Instead, I got to watch my daughter grow up."
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Victoria Priester moved to northeast Florida to go to college. "I moved up to St. Augustine from Key West in 2008 to go to Flagler College. It was a lot like Key West in some ways — laid back, and very nice."

She worked at a number of jobs through school. "I worked for the college, waited tables, I was a nanny, worked in retail. Every free moment I had, I was working to save and to pay for school."

Victoria graduated with a degree in political science, and moved to Washington with a job, planning to start her career there. "I had a fellowship with the Library of Congress. I knew it was temporary, but I thought I'd get a more permanent job before it ended. And I knew that the competition would be tough, but it was 2012, and the jobs just weren't there. I returned to St. Augustine, and it was just as bad. Everybody who had graduated with me was looking to start their careers in the recession. So I did the same part-time jobs I did while I was in school ... but nothing felt until I got into wedding planning."

Victoria had interned with a wedding planner while she was in school, and went to work full-time afterward.

"I'm a planner by nature," she says. "My job is ... their day come together easily.

Every wedding is different, in part because something always goes wrong.

"Without fail! There are so many moving parts on that one day that something always goes wrong. it's my responsbility to make sure that no one ever notices, and that the bride and groom and family enjoy what is often a stressful day."

Victoria Priester also was motivated to find something she loved doing by her mother, who died while Victoria was still in college. "I was close to my mother. She was a very independent and strong woman. She was sick for a long time, and he passing may not have been the best thing, it certainly was the right thing. It made realize that every day is precious, and that I needed to do whatever it takes to get to where I needed to be to be happy."

Victoria has started her own wedding planning business. And her occupation has made her ... just a little envious.

"I definitely see myself with a family one day. Seeing so many happily-ever-after fairytale weddings, you can't help wanting that for yourself."
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Reiss Tatum commanded a company of 200 troops in Vietnam.

"I decided when I was a senior in high school that I wanted to be an officer in the Marines, not in business, not in government. So everything I did in college was directed at that, and I got a commission right of college. The Marines shaped my life for the next 20 or 30 years going forward."

After his last combat tour, Reiss was a Marine instructor, newly married and living in San Diego.

"I really wanted to start a family, and I couldn't see going back to Vietnam. I wanted to stay in San Diego where I could surf and be around my family. I left the Marines and found what I thought was a temporary job in the chain restaurant business. I spent 25 years in that. That's what brought me to Jacksonville. But in the 1990s, a change in ownership of my employer meant I was looking for a new career."

Reiss didn't think anyone would hire him at the pay grade he'd achieved, so he started a recruiting business that specialized in construction and homebuilding. He was very successful until the real estate collapse in 2006. But by that time, Reiss had other worries.

"I was getting very sick. I had residual effects from exposure to [the defoliant] Agent Orange in Vietnam, and had had a heart attack at age 55. I stayed healthy for a long time after that, but started to recede into heart failure around 2006, which became end-stage heart failure. I was registered at Shands for a heart transplant, without which probably wouldn't live for more than a few months.

"But I found out about the LVAD, the left ventricular assist device. I had that implanted in 2010, and it really started my life all over again."

The LVAD is best-known because one was implanted in former Vice President Dick Cheney. But it's not well-known at all. Changing that has become Reiss Tatum's new mission.

"I'm disappointed that more doctors, especially cardiologists, don't understand what that device can mean to heart patients. It's not just saving lives -- it's improving the quality of life."

And prolonging Reiss' life had one immeasurable benefit — he's a grandfather.

"When I went into surgery, I had one grandson who was a year old. If I'd died in surgery, or from heart failure, he would never have known me. Four years later, I have a soon-to-be 6-year-old grandson, a 5-year-old grandson and a year-old granddaughter — and they know who I am. There's a cycle of life there."

At age 75, Reiss describes his life as "in overtime." Regulation time expired. He and his grandchildren are enjoying bonus coverage.

"Every day is a gift. That's what people in my situation think, but really, that's what everyone should think."
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Catherine Tappouni was born into a family that owned a construction company in Jacksonville, but her first career was teaching. She left teaching to start a fitness business, married, and then moved with her husband to Sarasota.

"I sold the business to move with my husband when he was transferred. I wasn't sure I wanted to start all over, and I had the bug to be back in the classroom. So, I went back to teaching."

During those years, Catherine and her husband were pursuing adoption.

"We decided to start our family, and after a while we realized it wasn't going to happen the natural way. We decided on adoption. But the wait time for international adoption stretched from months into years, and I decided to work on my life as it was, and let everything happen the way it was designed."

At that time, Catherine Tappouni's sister, who had started her own construction company, asked Catherine to become the firm's education director, teaching green building.

"She was kind of relentless, and explained that I could work from home, and just travel to Jacksonville occasionally. That idea appealed to me, as well as the fact that our third sister also was working in the business. I accepted her offer. That started creating friction in my marriage, though, and I had more decisions to make. Those decisions brought me back to Jacksonville and into a divorce, which made the adoption null and void."

She was back with her sisters and in her hometown, but Catherine did not have her own family, or prospects of having one soon. Nor did she foresee that the real estate boom was about to end, and with it, her job.

"My sister and I agreed to move on, and I was leaping without a net. Whatever I did next, I told myself, had to be something that was closer to my intrinsic skills and personality. Somehow, real estate kept coming into my sphere of attention."

Catherine has been a Realtor for just over a year. It wasn't an easy transition.

"There's just no way to tell how long it will take for your business to get going. The reality is, it's all on you. But it was the first time that fear started to set in ... 'what if this doesn't work?'"

Real estate sales is working, however. It's not that Catherine Tappouni is a success after one year as a Realtor. It's that she's confident she will be.

"You just have to have faith in your abilities, in your energy level, pound the pavement and talk to everyone you know. You can't be afraid that somebody will say 'no' to you."
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Christa Santos grew up in Vero Beach, and came to Orlando to study marketing and journalism at the University of Central Florida.

“I loved Orlando and wanted stay here after college,” she explains. “Vero is a small town, and there wasn’t a lot of opportunity in my field. I got a job at Disney, and learned about event management and planning. I also did a lot of volunteer work, as well – anything to polish my skills.”

After working with several health-related non-profit organizations, Christa got an opportunity to work for a technology incubator that was started at UCF, the Central Florida Innovation Corporation, which was funded by Lockheed Martin and other companies.

“We were working with new tech companies and inventors, helping them development their plans and become more attractive to outside investors,” she says. “I was there for seven years. One day, while I was on maternity leave, I got an email asking me to come into the office for an urgent meeting. We were all told that the office would shut down in a few months. That was hard. We’d become a family.”

So after working with entrepreneurs, Christa became one herself. She started her own marketing company, with the university as her anchor client. She talks often with aspiring business owners about balancing the many elements of her life.

“Life has a lot of ups and downs. The biggest up for me has been having my two children. They keep me on my toes! It gets crazy at times, juggling a career with parenting. But as I tell people, it’s the best job you’ll ever have.”

Christa Santos’ role with UCF will expand soon. So will her horizons.

“I have a new opportunity, to direct the marketing for the UCF Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. I see myself doing that and eventually transitioning to teach, maybe pursuing a PhD.”

In addition to combining her career path with family, Christa has Larsen syndrome. It’s a genetic disorder that causes problems with joints and bones, making movement and physical activity much more difficult. But it’s another challenge that Christa has met, for her entire life, in fact.

“You don’t really think about it. I can get most things done, even if I do them a little differently than other people might. If I had trouble getting up in the morning or walking, that might be different. But for the most part, I’m able to accomplish things.”

And while working with health research non-profits, her own condition gave Christa more insight. “By having a disability. I know that I was more empathetic. I understand what it’s like when it’s difficult to do things that most people take for granted.”

If asked for advice on following her career path, Christa knows what she’d answer. “I would say, never give up. If you believe in yourself, you can really do anything.”
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Pat Setser is an artist and writer. “I’m a member of the National League of American Pen Women, and have been for 16 years. I now sit on the board, and chair the membership committee. I go to Washington three times a year for board meetings.”

Most of Pat’s career was spent in the printing business. But she put all of her career on hold for several years to take care of her husband, who was found, during an unrelated surgery, to have cancer.

“I just pulled back in order to spend time with my husband. He was well for a period of time after the surgery, but they found that the cancer was in his lymph nodes, and when it’s there, it eventually will spread throughout your body.”

A terminal disease with no expiration date at the end of it usually prompts a reordering of one’s priorities.

“He lived almost five years, and during that time, when he was well, he was very active. He was involved in our church, and we made many trips to Ohio to visit our children and grandchildren.”

Pat’s husband had always wanted to go to Scotland to play golf, and they finally made that trip.

“He did not take his clubs because he wasn’t sure that he would up to playing. But when we went to Carnoustie, the staff said that we could walk out and follow some players. The played we joined told him to just use any of their clubs and to hit a few golf balls. When we finished, they invited us to their private club for lunch. Everyone in Scotland was so nice to us, we had a wonderful time.

Eventually, as the Setsers expected, the disease did progress.

“As he got very sick, we brought in hospice. My son said, ‘I always thought of death as an event, but it’s really a process.’ It was very peaceful. My husband was amenable to everything the hospice people told us, and he many, many visitors in the last month of his life.”

There is a bright side to most losses, though, and in Pat’s case … she regained control of her time, and how it was utilized.

“The responsibilities that I have now with organizations, I wouldn’t take on if he were still alive – I’d feel that I was taking time away from him. But he told me, ‘I want you to keep doing everything you enjoy doing. That way, I will know you will have a life after I’m gone.’”

If life is activity, and activity is life, then the time to be active is a valuable gift.

“I play tennis twice a week, I visit the sick once a week,” Pat says. “A day does not go by that I don’t think of him. My husband was a very wise man, and we had wonderful conversations. I miss him, and I know my children miss him a lot, too.”
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Around 40 years ago, in the Jacksonville neighborhood of Five Points, David Kanupp was a 13-year-old kid in with a bicycle who like to hang out at Benny Wells’s new Shell station. “I had a mini-bike and lived nearby. He’d ask me to clean the bathrooms, pump gas, stuff like that. I started doing working in the summer and when school was out.”

David’s break came when Benny had to have surgery. “He had to go into the hospital for a couple of days, and asked me to run that station. This was in the summer, so I worked all day. When he came back, I stayed around and got a work permit. I’d work there every afternoon after school until they closed.”

David was hooked on cars by then. Benny moved his Shell station to Avondale, taking his young mechanic and pump jockey with him. Three years later, Benny gave up the Shell station. “He started an auto repair business with me as his partner. We called it B&D Automotive, after Benny and David.”

So David Kanupp − fresh out of high school and still a teenager − became co-owner of a business. He’s still at the location where the business started, on San Juan Avenue near Blanding Boulevard. Ten years ago, Benny Wells retired.

“He made out a plan so I could buy him out, something that worked for both of us. I still have customers who came to the old Shell station, and their kids and grandkids, even some great-grandkids − generation after generation."

David doesn’t advertise, and he has minimal signage on his concrete block building. “We have all we can handle through word-of-mouth. It’s from taking care of customers.”

His son, Bobby, started working with the business a few years ago, and David is slowly turning the business over to him. B&D has some climate control in the front desk room, where David spends much of his time, but the garage is very hot in the summer, and bone-chilling on cold days. David looks forward to spending less time there.

“I’m not a retire kind of person,” he says. “I enjoy the work, working on the cars, solving problems. My son’s taking a bigger role in business, definitely. But as long as I’m physically able to do the work, I’ll still be here.”
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Kalpana DePasquale was born in Bangalore, India and came to the U.S. with her parents when she was small. She went to school in Florida through medical school, and started her ear, nose and throat (ENT) practice in St. Augustine.

“I think the most fun about ENT is that you’re not limited to one age group," she says. "I can see children who are two years old, adults, and elderly patients who are 102 years old.”

She’s also branched out. Kalpana founded Avanti Medical Spa as a venue to provide patients with cosmetic procedures, and Avanti Skin Care Products that she formulated herself.

The skin care products fill not only on patient needs, but her own need, as well – to broaden her business so that it’s not solely dependent on how many hours she works.

“About a year into my practice, I noticed a lump on my thyroid gland. I immediately knew what it was − I’m an ENT, I treat similar disorders all the time. The biopsy confirmed that it was malignant. I was 34 years old, one year into a solo practice, four-year-old and one-and-a-half-year-old sons … I knew I wasn’t going to die from this, but it took a toll on me emotionally. I thought, 'if this is what life is going to throw at me, maybe I should live a little differently.'”

Kalpana DePasquale is living her life differently. She hired staff for her expanding practice and clinic. And the skin care products don’t require a lot of her time, which was partly the reason for doing them.

“At first, it was because I wasn’t satisfied with the products that were out there. But then, I started thinking that there could be something I created that wouldn’t consume all of my time, the way medicine does.”

She’s been learning to play the piano for several years, and training to run a half-marathon this winter.

“This is the most balanced my life has ever been. It makes you a happier person, and I’ve noticed that it makes you a much better doctor, as well.”
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Philip McDaniel grew up near New York City, the youngest of six children. He began his career working with one of his entrepreneurial older brothers.

“I was interning and apprenticing with one of my brothers, who had a company that made tchotchkes − the waving hands that were in the cars then.”

Philip formed a similar business that in partnership with his brother. “My business was in the promotional items that gas stations and convenience stores sold, such as the Hess gasoline trucks and other branded items. It was a fun business, and we did very well. I was able to retire when I was 38.”

Philip’s liquidity event, as they say, came about in the usual way. “A company that wanted to expand into the field made an offer for us that we accepted,” he says. “I had to work for them for three years. After that I had a decision to make. My wife, in her infinite wisdom, suggested, ‘why don’t you just stay home and help raise our kids?’ So, I did. At the age of 40, I unplugged.”

Philip’s four children ranged in age, at that time, from 15 to 5. The family had started coming to St. Augustine while he was working. “I would set Wendy and the kids up in St. Augustine during the summer school break, and I would make a trip to Asia, where we did our manufacturing. St. Augustine had a great vibe, a great arts community, and it was really beautiful.”

When he retired, Philip McDaniel got deeply involved in the life of his new home. He set three goals: “One was to raise our kids; the second was to get in better shape, and I learned how to surf. And finally, I wanted to give back to the community.”

And then, after 10 years of community work, Philip made another change in direction. “I was looking at my financial situation and decided to go back to work. But I wanted to keep with my mantra of doing something that would benefit the community.”

Philip and a partner created the St. Augustine Distillery, a craft distiller of hard spirits that which occupies the renovated, historic ice house near the inner harbor and offers tours and tastings.

“If somebody told me 20 years ago that I would become a community volunteer in a place like St. Augustine, I would have told them they were crazy. If 10 years ago, someone said that I would run a craft distillery, I would have known they were crazy. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 15 years, but I know it will be fun … and I know it will be something that will improve our community.”
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Chris Henderson has loved motorcycles for most of his life. He didn’t plan to work in the industry, though. He went to the University of Florida to become an anthropologist. “My dream was to become an anthropologist,” he says. “I wanted to live and study in North Africa.”

But things in college took a different turn. Chris’ girlfriend got pregnant. Both of them dropped out of college and got married. “At the same time as our daughter was born, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, which took her life.”

Chris went to Orlando to study motorcycle mechanics, and after graduation, returned to Jacksonville to work at a Honda dealership.

“I learned the industry from the ground up. I started as a mechanic, became service manager, then into sales, finance and insurance. I became sales manager, and at another place, a general manager I’ve spent 18 years in the industry.”

The recession hit the motorcycle business hard, and early on. “You could really feel the beginnings of the recession in 2006. I had started a company with my father, and it wasn’t producing enough revenue to support of us. I left to work as service manager at a Harley-Davidson dealership.”

When that position ended, and the industry in shambles, Chris left motorcycles for another line of work.

“I heard about an opportunity at a financial services company,” he recalls. “I gave it my best shot, got the licenses and the training … but the financial services industry didn’t suit me.”

In fact, the interlude served an important function in Chris Henderson’s life. It made him realize how much he needed to be in the motorcycle business.

“I missed everything about it. The open air, the smell of the motorcycles. I love the people in the motorcycle world. We sell toys – big toys. People are happy when they’re buying a motorcycle.”

Chris found a position with Triumph Motorcycles as a regional manager. He says the job is essentially being a consultant to the owners of dealerships.

“You spend time with the dealers, and talk about every aspect of the business,” he says. “Because I worked my way through all the jobs in a dealership, I can relate to what their problems and challenges are.”

With two kids in college, and the youngest in high school, Chris Henderson could be thinking about slowing down in a few years. But he’s not. He has another goal in mind.

“Have a good time when you go to work, and enjoy what you’re doing.”
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