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George and Wilma Elmore

Giving Back

Like legend but true, George and Wilma Elmore — newlyweds who moved to Boca Raton, Florida, shortly after his discharge from the Army — opened their paving business in 1953 out of a single truck, borrowing $500 to buy the road-roller that now sits in the lobby of Hardrives, Inc., their multi-million-dollar road construction company.

Wilma, who came from California, may have noted then that Boca — created in the 1920s by a California character named Addison Mizner — seemed almost as sleepy and slow as La Jolla, another coastal resort town built around a brand name, Scripps.

Since then, both communities have become booming tourism and technology centers blessed with exclusive shops, expensive real estate, and worldwide brand recognition for quality and style.

Hardrives prospered with Florida, providing road surface for interstate highways, school and college campuses, and residential communities. Although their business boomed as Boca grew, the Elmores never changed their character, or their values: hard work, honesty, and a profound love of people and place. By 7:30 a.m. most weekdays, he can be found at the office or in his car, checking on a construction job or driving to a board meeting for one of a dozen nonprofit organizations spread around a county nearly the size of San Diego.

Though Wilma passed away in 2011, the Elmore legacy continues through George and her children Craig and Debra. Their son Craig works at Hardrives. Debra, who has returned to South Florida from a successful corporate career in Southern California, runs an IT consulting business and follows in her parents' footsteps, bringing business sense as a volunteer to nonprofits in need.

When Scripps Research followed the same path east that brought Mizner and the Elmores to Florida, George and Wilma gave $1 million, an essential endorsement in Palm Beach, a county as often-contentious as San Diego — for the love of community.

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From bootstraps to biotech—George and Wilma Elmore built up a successful paving business in South Florida and then made gifts to support the region’s biotech community.