Nelson Anthony Italiano, founder of Italiano Insurance Inc., passed away early Thursday morning, Sept. 12, 2013, surrounded by family in Tampa.
He is survived by his wife, Jane McKneely Italiano of Griffin, Ga., his four children; Nat, Jody, Terrell, Jeff; and four grandchildren.
A native of Tampa, he was born on August 29, 1928 and attended Mitchell Elementary, Wilson Jr. High, and Plant High School where he played varsity football, basketball and track. He then briefly attended the University of Florida before transferring to Florida State University where he received an honorable mention Little All American playing football.
In 1955, he married Jane and a year later their first son, Nat, was born.
Nelson served in the USAF, 1st. Lt. Intelligence Officer (Top Secret Clearance). From 1955-1960, he was an agent at Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.
In 1960 the Baldwin-Italiano Insurance Agency was formed with his childhood friend Walter Baldwin. In 1984, Italiano Insurance Services, Inc., a family-owned business was created and is now run by his sons, Jeff and Nat.
Nelson was a social man, a born leader with a big heart, and a dedicated family man. Throughout his 85 years, he made many friends and was heavily involved in the city of Tampa.
His accolades are vast and all encompassing. He was both an organizing member and a president of the Tampa Sports Club. Ever the family man, when his children were young, he spent five years as the Boy Scouts Scoutmaster for Troop 411, Palma Ceia Methodist Church, was both founder and president of the Palma Ceia Little League, and was Robinson High School Parents Association Athletic Rep for two years and president for another two.
As his family grew, so did Nelson’s love for the Tampa Bay community in which he was raised. He became involved in the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce (Sports Chairman), he was an eight-year member of the Tampa Sports Authority (president for two years) and a West Coast Bowl Association Member.
Staying loyal to his Alma Mater, he served as Area VP of the FSU Alumni Association and became part of the FSU Athletic Council.
Nelson served as Secretary to the Florida State Board of Business Regulation, was a Florida Freshwater Fish & Game Commissioner, and a Foundation member of the USF board, and board member of the Greater Tampa Independent Insurance Agents Association.
He received many awards and honors including Tampa Chapter, Football Hall of Fame honoree, the Distinguished American Award, and received the Circolo Culturale Italiano of University of South Florida Man of the Year Award.
The honorary pallbearers, and Nelson’s lifelong, closest friends, were Walter Baldwin (Uncle Walter), Ed Flom (Uncle Eddie), and Sam Salario (Uncle Sammy). He was known and loved by many and will be truly missed.
The visitation and funeral service were held last weekend in Tampa.
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