Ringhaver family continues their legacy of service with Flagler’s Board of Trustees
Apr 21, 2023
by Anna Boone
Legacy has deep roots, and the Ringhaver family planted theirs in the earliest days of Flagler College.
“In the 60s, my dad and a couple other businessmen were approached by Lawrence Lewis,” Trustee Emeritus Randy Ringhaver said.
Randy said his father, Lambert Christian (L.C.) Ringhaver, and this group of local businessmen were eager to bring their pens to the table during Flagler’s founding- signing the bank note needed to establish and keep the College afloat during its infancy.
This was L.C.’s introductory act as a lifelong friend to the College and the catalyst for his family’s legacy with Flagler. He had a passion for opportunities he believed were ahead of Flagler College and its capacity for positive impact in the St. Augustine community. This passion was a part of his motivation to serve on the Board of Trustees from 1970 to 1976.
“If you don’t have a passion for it from the get-go, it’d be very hard to be a committed Trustee,” Randy said.
It’s a quality that two generations of the Ringhaver family have inherited: L.C.’s oldest son Lance Ringhaver, who served on the Board from 1983 to 1989; L.C.’s youngest son Randy who served from 1989 to 2022 with five years of Chairman service; and now Randy’s daughter Bree Alban, who was elected by the Board in October 2022 to serve as its newest Trustee.
“It’s an incredible legacy,” Randy said.
L.C. moved with his wife Elaine and first son Lance from Ohio to St. Augustine in 1947 where he started work with Diesel Engine Sales Co. (DESCO), a local shrimp boat manufacturer. From employee to general manager, to sole owner of DESCO in 1957, L.C.’s first decade with the company was spent raising its caliber of production and success.
When DESCO was appointed as a full-line Caterpillar dealer in 1961, Ring Power Corporation was established with inspiration from L.C.’s nickname among peers and family: “Ring.”
Lance and Randy grew up alongside their family business, in the backyard of Flagler College and in the heart of downtown St. Augustine.
“We lived right there on Valencia Street, just down the way from the Hotel Ponce de Leon,” Randy said.
Alban said she thinks her father’s inherited passion for his work with Flagler was bolstered by his love for St. Augustine- the place he always “considered home no matter where his parents were originally from.”
“We used to go on the carriage rides and all the St. Augustine tours, and he would have his own rendition of a downtown tour from his experiences growing up there,” Alban said.
She said her father would recount playing with friends in the downtown homes still standing today, funny stories of neighborhood dogs, and Sunday lunches spent in the Ponce de Leon Dining Hall.
Randy also nostalgically recalled time spent at the Ponce pool, where he first learned how to swim, and summertime fishing down at the city marina.
“I would always take my catch back by the Hotel Ponce de Leon for the housekeeping staff who worked there,” he said.
Memories like these play a significant part in what Randy said influences his passion for the institution.
“Being from St. Augustine, being around the Hotel Ponce de Leon, and being around Flagler College gave me a lot of passion,” he said.
Alban also recognizes the part of her father’s commitment that is “in honor of his dad.”
L.C. and fellow early supporters of the College were dedicated to ensuring the quality of any development in St. Augustine. Randy said they understood the extreme historical value of the Hotel Ponce de Leon and other historical buildings on the property.
But he said they also saw a great opportunity to create a successful institution of higher education.
The vision and hopes for this investment they made carried into their roles as Flagler’s early Board of Trustees. During that time, Randy said the main role of a Trustee was to work on developing the financial support the College needed until it could establish an endowment and become self-sustaining in operational costs.
“I think most all the Trustees at that time were just being supportive of Mr. Lewis in any way, form, or fashion,” he said.
During his early service on the Board, after being elected as a Trustee in 1989, Randy said Flagler had started to grow its endowment and the chance for the Board to expand its active involvement beyond fundraising became apparent.
“Next thing you know, there was a lot of opportunity to increase the size of the student body, and we needed to have more facilities for dorms,” he said.
Randy said his time as Chairman of the Board, from 2005 to 2010, marked an era of his heightened involvement with College activities and initiatives. This was notably exemplified through his coordination of the F.E.C. Railroad Towers acquisition in 2006.
During his time as Chairman, Randy additionally oversaw the rehabilitation and restoration of the Molly Wiley Art Building, the creation and construction of the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, the creation of the Faculty Senate, and the transition of the Athletics program from NAIA to NCAA, Division II.
His support went beyond leadership in business ventures. Since 1999, Randy has donated more than $3 million to Flagler College. His philanthropy has funded full tuition scholarships through the Ringhaver Family Endowed Scholarship and the Elaine Ringhaver Riggle Women's Golf Scholarship. His giving has also supported historic preservation of the Ponce de Leon Hotel, the growth of Flagler's Business program, athletics, and the construction of the Ringhaver Student Center.
The dedication of the Ringhaver Student Center in 2007 was a milestone that Alban said opened her eyes to the depth of her family’s roots with Flagler College. She said she didn’t fully realize, until that time, the magnitude of what her “grandfather, uncle, and dad instilled in the College.”
“It gave me a lot of pride in my family,” Alban said. “That was the point when Flagler rose above all the other committees my dad had served on.”
When encouraging his daughter Bree to run for the Board seat left open following his transition to emeritus status, Randy said he was confident that her dedicated work with Ring Power and time spent on its Board would prepare her for this role. He also believed her Business Administration degree would be helpful in her operations within the Board’s endowment or finance committees.
“I felt like she was very well qualified,” Randy said. “It was just whether she’d have the passion to do it.”
Alban said her passion wasn’t hard to define, noting instances like her grandmother Elaine being invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony of the student center’s opening and College’s willingness to offer space on campus for her uncle Lance’s funeral services in 2016. She said it’s examples of thoughtful consideration like these that motivated her desire to continue a legacy of service with Flagler.
“I was honored that my dad would consider for me to fill his shoes in this way,” Alban said.
As her service on the Board gets underway, Alban said one of her first goals is to deepen her familiarity with the College.
She hopes to do this by looking at how the student body engages socially with the campus community, gauging their support and frustrations on multiple fronts, and nailing down an understanding of student opinions related to Flagler College’s overall performance.
“I’d like to get a better understanding of what the core culture is at the College,” Alban said. “Of the student body, and of the faculty.”
She plans to attend as many classes and campus events as possible while prioritizing building camaraderie with Flagler’s personnel and student representatives. Through her regional network of professional peers, Alban said she’s also eager to play a part in generating interest in Flagler College and advancing fundraising pursuits.
Her father said he’s planning on leaning into the nature of his Trustee Emeritus role, providing support and consultation only when needed.
“I’d like to see Bree be the active representative of our family and our corporation,” Randy said. “Adding a fresh perspective to the future of Flagler.”Tagged As