Flor “Shorty” and Elba Navarro, two prominent philanthropists in the Valley, were recognized for creating over $1.5 million in endowed scholarships at the YSU Foundation at a special presentation on campus.
The lobby, hallway and receiving area outside the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships in Meshel Hall will now be known as Navarro Commons, in honor of the Navarros. This academic year, alone, more than 50 YSU students are receiving scholarship support from the Navarros.
“We could not think of a more appropriate area on campus, the commons outside the Financial Aid offices, to honor the Navarros,” said Paul McFadden, President of the YSU Foundation. “Their scholarships touch the lives of YSU students across the board, every college and major on campus has students supported by Navarro Scholarships.”
Flor “Shorty” Navarro, the oldest of 11 children, was 14 years old when in 1951 he immigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico. Upon arriving, he walked down to a gas station on Wilson Avenue and asked the owner for a job. Accepting him as a new employee, the owner wrote “Shorty” on his work uniform, the nickname has stuck ever since.
As a student at East High School at age 16, with his father as a co-signer, Navarro purchased the gas station from his boss. After attending East High School he joined the Marine Corps. Upon his return, he began selling used cars, a job he held for 22 years until 1982 when he opened his own new car Lincoln Mercury dealership on Wick Avenue in Youngstown. Later he expanded his business to eleven franchises. In 2012, Navarro sold most of the dealerships keeping his Stadium GM Superstore in Salem, Ohio which employs more than 65 people.
Elba Lillian Navarro graduated from South High School in Youngstown and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Spanish, Reading and Education from YSU. She is retired from the Youngstown City Schools, having taught at both Roosevelt Elementary and Chaney High School.
The Navarros, who have been married for 50 years, are among the leading philanthropists in the Mahoning Valley. In 2010 Flor Navarro was named the Outstanding Philanthropist in the Mahoning Valley by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and, the Veteran of the Year by the United Veterans Council of Greater Youngstown. A member of the Boardman Rotary for over ten years, he was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow award for outstanding Rotarian.
In addition to their scholarship support the Navarros also contributed $100,000 toward the construction of the new Nunziato Veterans Resource Center at YSU. Shorty and Elba are members of the Stone Bridge Giving Society at YSU. Since 2020 Elba has been a member of the YSU Foundation Board of Trustees, serving on the Audit and Development Committees.
The Navarros are involved in OCCHA and are members of Christ the Good Shepherd (Santa Rosa de Lima) Church in Campbell. Flor Navarro has served as a board member of the Red Cross and Hospice of the Valley and also volunteers his time in prison ministry at the federal penitentiary in Elkton. He was recently selected for inclusion in the Latino American Who’s Who list.
“The impact of the Navarros philanthropy is profound,” McFadden stated. “The lives of thousands of students, over many current and future generations will be enriched and improved by Shorty and Elba.”