Veteran's Gift Helps Oklahomans Realize Dreams After His Death
OKLAHOMA CITY - Dozens of Oklahoma City families will realize the dream of homeownership thanks to a late unassuming army veteran.
Sergeant 1st class E7 Stephen Florentz was a highly decorated helicopter medic in the Vietnam War as well as Desert Storm, nearly 15 years later.
“We became good friends over the next 30 years,” says Mike Bourland who met the born and raised Brooklyn New Yorker on a bicycle ride after Florentz accepted a job at the VA hospital in Oklahoma City.
“He did not spend any money on himself...and you would have known it to look at him,” says Florentz about his friend’s appearance.
Bourland says that continued into retirement when Florentz volunteered at local churches.
“Mainly he would help if they had a free meal involved in it,” jokes Bourland.
However, that frugalness helped Florentz, who grew up poor and not close with any family, to get the opportunity to own his own home.
“Homeownership was important to him,” says Bourland.
That might be why the work of Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity caught his attention.
“I got a call from Steve in 2002, he wanted information about the program,” says Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity CEO Ann Felton.
Felton wouldn't hear anything more until this past December when she learned that Florentz had died of heart disease at the age of 72.
All those years of saving amounted to $2.25 million which Florentz donated to the Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity.
“It a blessing, it’s a great blessing,” says Felton about the donation.
It marks the organization's single biggest donation and will pay for 24 new homes at Legacy Estates near Council Rd. and Wilshire Ave.
A family has already moved into Florentz's old home which he also donated to the non-profit home building organization.
“He was a giving individual. He had a big heart,” says Bourland.