Ewers donate $500,000 to IHMC

Ron and Phyllis Ewers have donated $500,000 to the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a gift that will allow the research center to make some needed improvements to its glass-enclosed building in downtown Ocala.

IHMC’s Ocala facility was once the home of Marion County’s main branch of its public-library system. Built in the 1960s, the building’s futuristic look became a focal point of Ocala’s downtown. In 2009, the then vacant facility fell into the hands of IHMC, a not-for-profit research institute that is part of the Florida University System with branches in Ocala and Pensacola.

“I was so glad to see IHMC move into the building,” said Ewers, who moved to Ocala in the 1970s and serves on the institute’s board of directors. “The building and the work that goes on at the institute has really become one of Ocala’s jewels.”

One of the distinctive features of the building is the skylight in the center of the roof. But after 60 years, the glass in the skylight has taken on a smoky look.

“Thanks to this gift, we will be able to replace the roof and skylight,” said Laurie Zink, development and community outreach director for the Ocala operation. “We will be able to make other improvements to the building as well. We are so fortunate to have people in our community like Ron and Phyllis.”

Ewers is president of Ewers Consulting in Ocala and has been part owner of a number of companies, including Classic Fire, which is known for its innovations in fire-fighting equipment. Before that, he was president of E-One, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of fire trucks and equipment.

Over the years, Ewers and his wife have also helped fund IHMC’s outreach programs, which range from an evening lecture series to Science Saturdays, a hands-on science program for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.

“It has just been such a privilege to be on IHMC’s board,” said Ewers. “The institute really has been a great addition to Ocala.”