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Monday, December 11, 2023

Mary Sue Rich receives statewide ‘Hometown Hero’ award

Mary Sue Rich, a College of Central Florida alumna, was recognized with the LeRoy Collins “Hometown Hero” Distinguished Alumni Award during the Association of Florida Colleges’ annual conference that was held earlier this month in Orlando.

The Hometown Hero award was presented to Rich at the conference’s Presidential Gala Dinner on November 2, 2023.

Mary Sue Rich with Dr. Jim Henningsen, president of College of Central Florida (2)
The Hometown Hero award was presented to Mary Sue Rich on November 2, 2023, during the Association of Florida Colleges’ annual conference in Orlando (Photo: College of Central Florida)

Born and raised in Ocala, Mary Sue Rich graduated from the Central Florida Community College (now the College of Central Florida) and the University of Central Florida. Rich was the first African American woman elected to the Ocala City Council, where she served for 24 years until her retirement in 2019.

Mary Sue Rich served on the Ocala City Council for 24 years

Throughout the years, Rich has received many honors, including the CF Foundation’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001.

“We are so proud that the Association of Florida Colleges recognized the outstanding qualities, service and leadership Mrs. Rich possesses with this statewide recognition,” stated Chris Knife, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and CEO of the CF Foundation. “She truly exemplifies what it means to be a CF alumna.”

The LeRoy Collins Distinguished Alumni Awards, which are named in honor of former Governor LeRoy Collins, are held every two years to give the Florida College System the opportunity to recognize those that inspire and excel in their local communities.

While each college is eligible to submit one nominee, only four alumni across Florida receive the distinction of being a LeRoy Collins Distinguished Alumni. Award recipients must have achieved success within their college service district and demonstrated notable community involvement.

For more information about the Association of Florida Colleges, click here to check out their website.

In 2019, the Mary Sue Rich Community Center at Reed Place was named after Rich and community activist Ruth Reed, honoring their community service. The facility, which is located at 1821 NW 21st Avenue in Ocala, celebrated its grand opening in January of 2023.

Mary Sue Rich Community Center photo
The Mary Sue Rich Community Center at Reed Place opened on January 21, 2023 (Photo: Ocala Recreation and Parks Department)

The 41,750-square-foot, two-story community center includes designated indoor space for senior, youth, and family programs; a 400-seat banquet/event space; fitness equipment; an indoor walking track; two full basketball courts; a library; and multi-purpose studio rooms.

To learn more about the Mary Sue Rich Community Center at Reed Place, visit the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department’s website.