Published: Mar 29, 2011 7:26 PM EDT
Updated: Mar 29, 2011 4:26 PM EDT

 NAPLES, Fla - Hodges University on Tuesday recognized long-time Naples philanthropists Dolph and Sharon von Arx as its 2011 Humanitarians of the Year. The award was presented by Baird Wealth Management before more than 450 people attending a sold out event at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.

“Now in its 15th year, the Humanitarian of the Year Award recognizes those who have nudged society forward through their philanthropic actions and who have touched the lives of so many in our community,” said Dr. Louis J. Traina, Vice President of University Advancement for Hodges University. “Traditionally, this prestigious award has gone to an individual; this is just the fourth time in which a couple has been celebrated.”

Originally from St. Louis, Dolph and Sharon von Arx epitomize the spirit of community service and charitable giving. Since moving to Naples in 1992, they have generously given financial contributions and have volunteered their time to numerous worthy causes throughout the community. These organizations include The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Youth Haven, Education Foundation of Collier County, Neighborhood Health Clinic, United Way, Shelter for Abused Women & Children, Humane Society Naples, Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples Museum of Art, and NCH Healthcare System.

Dolph von Arx is the former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Planters LifeSavers Company, an affiliate of RJR Nabisco. He retired from the position after 33 years in the consumer products business sector. He currently oversees a venture capital firm that provides angel investing to start-up and expanding businesses around the globe.

Locally, Dolph serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Economic Development Council of Collier County and is Chairman of The Conservancy of Southwest Florida and a board member of the Florida Gulf Coast University School of Business. Previously, he chaired the Regional Business Alliance of Southwest Florida, Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples Museum of Art and NCH Healthcare System.

Sharon von Arx has also been actively engaged in volunteer service, serving in a variety of leadership roles with organizations throughout the Naples area and in North Carolina and Connecticut. Locally, she is Director Emeritus of the Shelter for Abused Women & Children. Sharon served for four years on the board of directors of Youth Haven. She is a former board member of the Community Foundation of Collier County as well as a former Vice President of the Friends of Art, Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts.

“For nearly two decades, Dolph and Sharon von Arx have generously given of their time and talents to assist in the betterment of our local community through many worthy causes,” said Terry McMahan, President of Hodges University. “We are delighted to recognize their contributions by naming them as our 2011 Humanitarians of the Year.”

Dolph and Sharon von Arx join a growing list of individuals and couples honored for their contributions. Previous award recipients include the Sproul family - Juliet C. “Judy” Sproul, Katherine “Katie” Sproul and Jennifer Sproul Sullivan (2010), Terry and Christine Flynn (2009), Jerry and Arlene Nichols (2008), Truly Nolen (2007), Michael Watkins and Ellin Goetz (2006), Clyde Butcher (2005), Peter Thomas (2004), William Schoen (2003), Frances Pew Hayes (2002), Earl Hodges (2001), Corbin Wyant (2000), Jack Humphrey (1999), Myra Janco Daniels (1998), and Lavern Norris Gaynor (1997).