The Villages business community lost one of its stars Thursday with the death of Tim DeRegnaucourt.
Known for his entrepreneurial skills and devotion to family, the owner of the Safe Ship franchise stores at Colony and Southern Trace plazas suffered a heart attack at age 48.
Even as they coped with their loss, DeRegnaucourt’s wife, Janel “Jen,” and daughter, Alex White, expressed their commitment to continuing his legacy in The Villages.
“This has always been a family dynamic business,” White said. “My father was the foundation of it. That foundation will not falter. We will continue to honor his wishes.”
DeRegnaucourt built the Colony Plaza franchise into the company’s No. 1 sales producer, said Richard Marsh, co-founder of the shipping services company.
“The Colony store became a million-dollar-a-year sales store within six years of operations, which is amazing,” Marsh said. “It took me almost 10 years to get my store to that point. Not only was Tim a brilliant hard-working young man, but also very smart.”
Marsh and business partner and wife, Cheryl, envisioned that DeRegnaucourt would succeed them upon their retirement.
“My wife and I started the franchise business 10 years ago, and Tim was one of our first franchises,” Marsh said. “Two years into his success, I indicated to him that I would have to retire some day. I asked him, ‘How would you like to take over the franchise business?’ He said yes. We felt like Tim was our son.”
What impressed family friend Doug Gilpin, a Sumter County commissioner, was DeRegnaucourt’s devotion to family. He not only leaves behind a wife and daughter, but also a son, Mason DeRegnaucourt, 13, already an international championship horseman who graduated last weekend from the eighth grade at The Villages Charter School.
Nine years ago, Gilpin and his wife, Diane, met DeRegnaucourt’s mother, Lynne Robinson Csaszar, and her husband, Bob, as she considered acquiring the franchise in partnership with her son.
The loss extends throughout the community, Gilpin said.
“They’re all about family, and so indicative of The Villages and the lifestyle,” he said. “It touches your heart that they are such good friends. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for any of them. But then we have to gather up, say our prayers and carry on. That’s what we will do. And we do that in honor of Tim.”
Family members, employees and close friends will gather Sunday for a private celebration of life at the DeRegnaucourt family ranch in Ocala.
DeRegnaucourt also leaves behind a legacy of giving.
Over the years, his stores contributed to the Toys for Tots holiday campaign and supported the annual community golf tournament that raises dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Many know DeRegnaucourt and his staff’s efforts in raising supplies for survivors of hurricanes Maria, Irma and others.
“Anytime there was a national disaster, a community disaster, Tim opened up the doors and we brought in a storage pod to collect water, food, dog food, toiletries,” said Mary Johnson, his longtime manager of the Colony Plaza store. “Tim was just fabulous, very compassionate and caring. If any employee was in trouble, whether financially or emotionally, he and Jen were there right away.”
David R. Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or firstname.lastname@example.org.