Pensacola attorney Fred Levin has gifted his Bayou Texar estate known as Timeless Tanglewood to the University of West Florida, the institution announced Friday.

Levin’s donation includes much of the home’s contents, including works of art and collector’s items. The total value of Levin’s gift tops $8 million, making it the largest gift by a living donor in the university’s history.

“Every gift we receive helps us provide students with access to high-quality, relevant educational opportunities,” said UWF President Martha Saunders. “But every once in a while, a gift like this one from Fred Levin comes along that has the ability to transform what we do. We are most grateful for his trust in us.”

One of the most successful trial attorneys in the country, Levin has received more than 25 jury verdicts in excess of $1 million, six of which were in excess of $10 million. He’s perhaps best known for rewriting Florida’s Medicaid Third Party Recovery Act to allow the state of Florida to recover billions of dollars from the tobacco industry for smoking-related illnesses.

Fred Levin in 2016. (Drew Buchanan/The Pulse)

Much of Levin’s collection will remain with the house

Built in 1988, the 7,500 square foot home sits on 1.2 acres on the eastern shore of Bayou Texar. The lower level includes a bar area themed after the RMS Titanic, complete with a 1912 Renault automobile that was the original sister car of one that was aboard the Titanic and is now at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. A collection of commissioned artworks will remain with the property, along with its 21-foot dining room table, custom-made European chinaware, and antique Victorian Tiffany silver.

The property — which will now be known as the UWF President’s Club at Timeless Tanglewood — will provide the opportunity for enhanced learning experiences for students in the global hospitality and tourism management program, officials said. In addition, the property is envisioned to offer a venue for meetings and events that support the university’s mission, as well as a place to host visiting dignitaries and academic scholars from around the world for the enhancement of UWF academic programs.

The gardens at Timeless Tanglewood. (Larry Marchant/Special to The Pulse)

Gift made in Askew’s memory

Levin is donating the Tanglewood estate to UWF in honor of his personal friend and law partner Reubin O’Donovan Askew, who served as the 37th governor of Florida from 1971 to 1979. Askew, along with Levin’s brother David, formed the law firm now known as Levin Papantonio in 1955.

In recognition of Levin’s continued support, UWF announced that it has renamed the Department of Government as the Reubin O’D. Askew Department of Government. Starting in Fall 2018, the Reubin O’D. Askew Department of Government will provide opportunities for students to receive scholarships as Askew Scholars.

“Reubin O’D. Askew was one of the finest governors to serve Florida,” said Levin. “He was also one of the founding partners of the Levin law firm and a wonderful friend. It is a privilege for me to honor him in this way and to provide an opportunity for his name and legacy to be remembered in the Pensacola community he loved and supported so much.”

Levin, left, with Nancy Fetterman and Philip Morris at UWF’s 50th anniversary gala. (University of West Florida/Special to The Pulse)

Levin has long history of giving to UWF

Levin has a longstanding history of giving to the university. More than 20 years ago, he gifted an endowed professorship at UWF in honor of his father, Abe Levin, which is now worth more than $400,000. In 2017, he gave $100,000 to support UWF football, as well as $550,000 to establish the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute for Multidisciplinary Studies. The institute will further the university’s leadership in STEAM initiatives, combined applications of science, technology, engineering, art and math, officials said, and will create a hub for students and faculty to work on innovative community projects, better preparing graduates for today’s ever-changing workforce.

“Fred is passionate about the critical role UWF plays in our region and investing in the lives of others,” said Howard Reddy, interim vice president of university advancement. “We thank him for his exceptional vision and generosity.”

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