Cape Kids — City Leaders: Gloria Raso Tate — Realtor, Cape pioneer
The Rasos packed up from Pittsburgh in 1960 and arrived to the hurricane forces of Donna, which Gloria Tate’s father Joseph and then-pregnant mother Grace named their fifth daughter after. Raso Realty was established in 1973 by Joseph Raso and since passed on to his family. Joseph was the first bartender in Cape Coral, until he decided to get his real estate license and worked with Gulf American. He and wife Grace were the first president and first lady of the Cape Coral Italian American Club, one of the first organized clubs in the city.
“There were less than 400 people when we got here in 1960. So, not only did you know everyone, but pretty much everybody was called your aunt or uncle — that’s how close we were. There were only a handful on teenagers, and that made us even tighter. I was in the sixth grade when we came here. I had to go two hours on a bus to get to school. I had to go up the dirt road on Del Prado and up Pine Island Road to J. Colin English and then from there I’d get another bus to go over the old 41 bridge down to Edison Park Elementary. We’d get there; have class, lunch, and then back on the bus. It was like an all-day affair. Luckily the following year I was in middle school and the North Fort Myers school opened so my travel time was almost cut in half.
“We spent so much time as teens and as youth at the Yacht Club around the fountain, especially during the Vietnam War. The Youth Center was our pride and joy. I was 12 when they had the Christmas Dance, and my birthday was a week later, and so I had to petition my peers to ask if I could attend the dance and they allowed me to. A week later I was given the key to the Teen Club.
“It was so important for me to be able to bring our youth something similar with the William ‘Bill’ Austen Youth Center we have now. When I was growing up here it was so important for our youth to have a place.
“My father had the vision for this place to become the best city to live in and I bought in. He believed it from the day he brought us here. My mother and my sisters did not appreciate the move at all and I was one that loved the move and it was very, very different for us.
“As our parents have now both passed, we always think they would be very proud to see what their legacy is. My father was with Gulf American and one of the original owners of (Cape Royal Golf Club) and helped design it. My sister and other family members are champions from the Cape Coral Golf & Tennis Club.
“WAe have a true history, and when I look at this city, nothing can erase that history. I’m so proud to have any small part in making this city what it is and I believe the best is to come.
“I believe we’re going to continue to grow and you can see it, but it’s still community-driven. The one thing that I always felt was important to me about the city of Cape Coral was that nothing was here when we got here, everything we have was inspired and created by the citizens — we needed a school, we got a school, we needed a hospital, we got a hospital. There’s such a grass-roots feel here where residents get involved in all aspects of the city. We see the need and we fill it.
— Compiled by CJ HADDAD