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TAMPA, Fla – The Florida Aquarium unveiled a one-of-a-kind art sculpture today to honor former Aquarium Executive Director and CEO Thom Stork. The 7-foot tall stainless steel sculpture features a life size stork wearing a bowtie, a Thom Stork trademark.
Award-winning artist Yeins (James) Gomez was commissioned to create a sculpture that captured Stork’s personality along with his passion for children.
“Thom Stork was an icon in the Tampa Bay community. He was a visionary, an innovator and a friend to many. His leadership paved the way for the success The Florida Aquarium is enjoying today,” said Roger Germann, The Florida Aquarium’s current President and CEO. “The playful and whimsical sculpture will serve as a permanent reminder of Thom’s tremendous contributions to The Florida Aquarium and the Tampa Bay community as a whole.”
The sculpture will be located in the Aquarium’s newly renovated Outdoor Plaza, which was a vision of Stork’s.
The total statue (base, nest and stork) is made of marine grade stainless steel with a black stain applied to show definition of the artists detail. The stork stands on a nest with three chicks - each one representing one of Thom’s grandchildren. The nest sits on a base that is fashioned to look like a live oak, which is one of the strongest and most common trees found in Florida. In addition, the stork’s wings are outstretched, as if protecting his chicks as Thom was very protective of The Florida Aquarium brand and those who worked for the Aquarium.
Previously, The Florida Aquarium established the Thom Stork Legacy Fund, a fund designed to maintain and continuously improve the Outdoor Plaza for children to enjoy for years to come.
Stork served as the Aquarium’s Executive Director and CEO from 2002 to 2017. He passed away from cancer in January 2017.
He also served on the Florida Tourism Commission and the boards of Visit Florida, Visit Tampa Bay, the Tampa Downtown Partnership, the Tampa Convention Center and Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.