Marshall E. “Doc” Rinker Sr. was the founder of Rinker Materials Corporation, a leader in the construction industry known for its masonry supplies, cement and concrete. Much of Florida is built on foundations poured by Rinker Materials Corporation, including Disney World and Epcot, military bases, myriad shopping malls, towering office buildings and condominiums. With his wife Vera Lea by his side, Rinker used a $500 truck and a determined attitude to form a multimillion-dollar business that employed more than 2,300 people when he sold it to CSR Ltd. in 1988 for $515 million.
How he used his wealth sets Marshall E. Rinker Sr. apart from many other wealthy men. Mr. Rinker chose to use a substantial portion of his money to make a difference in the lives of others and always said, “Money was only a thing to make the world better.”
He focused his philanthropy primarily on education, the arts and healthcare. In fact, Mr. Rinker gave the first gift to Palm Beach Atlantic and was a proud supporter of the college throughout the years. He was honored by PBA as the recipient of the American Free Enterprise Medal in 1985 as well as the Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa in 1988. The Rinker School of Business at PBA is dedicated to teaching the business principles and ethics practiced by Mr. Rinker. In honor of Mrs. Rinker, Vera Lea Rinker Hall was dedicated in 2002 and houses the University’s School of Music and Fine Arts.
Vera Lea, or “Petey” as she affectionately was called, was an integral part of the family business, serving as secretary and treasurer. She was operationally active in the early years and worked in the office until 1948. She gradually phased into a supportive role as she raised their children, Marshall Jr., David and John. Petey was active in the First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach and served in the Hospital Auxiliary of Good Samaritan Hospital.
When Vera Lea died on March 20, 1985 just shy of the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary, she was the matriarch of a rapidly expanding family. Marshall died more than 10 years later in 1996.