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CONTENTS WINTER 2021
FEATURES 22 | ‘A HOME HAS TO HAVE A SOUL’ When the survival of the Waddell House was in doubt, Rhett and Brooke Delaney decided to invest in Winter Park’s past. By Randy Noles, photography by Rafael Tongol 35 | PEOPLE TO WATCH Meet a dozen millennials and generation Xers who are ushering Winter Park into the future. By the Editors, photography by Rafael Tongol BOOK REVIEW 54 | WHALE DAY: AND OTHER POEMS In his most recent poetry collection, Billy Collins proves himself to be a shrewd craftsman and a puckish storyteller. By Michael McLeod 58 | UNDAUNTED How did a shy little girl from a broken family become a college president? Rita Bornstein’s untold story. By Rita Bornstein, photo restoration by Will Setzer/Circle 7 Design Studio
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FASHION 78 | WINTER OUR WAY We can’t think of a cozier place to hunker down for the winter season than in the Casa Feliz Historic Home & Venue. Photography by Rafael Tongol, styling by Marianne Ilunga, makeup and hair by Elsie Knab IN MEMORIAM 84 | CAROLYN BIRD A mainstay of the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, Carolyn Bird was beloved for her work ethic and her sense of humor. By Randy Noles
IN EVERY ISSUE
PLACES 16 | HERE COMES ‘THE EDYTH’ The iconic foundation launched by Edyth Bassler Bush plans a new headquarters that will advance its mission and be transformative for downtown Winter Park. By Randy Noles
8 | FIRST WORD 12 | COVER ARTIST 94 | SHOPPING 100 | EVENTS 110 | OUR TOWN 112 | THE POEM
DINING 86 | BY GEORGE, IT’S TIME FOR LUNCH The time is right for a straightforward café on Park Avenue. This one serves up great sandwiches (with house-made ingredients!) and memorable cookies. By Rona Gindin, photography by Rafael Tongol
© Jeffrey Davis
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FIRST WORD | RANDY NOLES
WHY ALLEN TROVILLION MATTERED
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WINTER PARK PUBLIC LIBRARY
first met Allen Trovillion in 2015, when I went to his home in Maitland House of Representatives. (Gurney would later become a U.S. Senator from to borrow the original version of a watercolor map showing Winter Park Florida, and gain a measure of notoriety for his staunch defense of President as it looked in 1908. His father had painted the map in the late 1960s Nixon as a member of the Senate Watergate Subcommittee.) based upon his childhood memories of the small city. As mayor, Trovillion oversaw construction of the current City Hall. He also I wanted to reproduce this important historical relic in a special issue spearheaded the building of a swimming pool and a road-paving project on of Winter Park Magazine, which would celebrate the city’s 125th birthday. the city’s predominantly African-American west side. He served on (and briefly Much to my surprise, I found Trovillion, then age 89, perched high above chaired) the Orange County Biracial Committee as schools were desegregated in the branches of a large tree, saw firmly in hand, pruning away as though he and was particularly proud of his record on race relations. was impervious to disaster. Despite his accomplishments in office, Trovillion announced in 1966 that “I’ll be down in just a minute,” he shouted as another stubborn branch gave he wouldn’t seek re-election. “I got into politics by accident,” he said. “I’m not way and tumbled to the ground. He quickly descended, confidently navigata politician.” But elective office beckoned again in 1994, and he won a seat in ing a ladder that seemed far too shaky for my comfort. “Man, it’s hot outside,” the Florida House of Representatives from District 36. (By that time, he had he said as he welcomed me with a bone-crunching handshake. switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.) I noted the octogenarian’s powerful chest and sinewy arms, and did some The GOP was a comfortable fit, politically. The erstwhile mayor’s brand of quick math in my head to reconfirm his age. Yep, he was fiscal and social conservatism went down well in his heavily 89 alright. Meantime he went inside and retrieved the map, red district — although he experienced backlash in 2001 which was still framed. He was witty and sharp as a tack following a meeting in Tallahassee with teenagers taking part when describing its origin and quirky points of interest. in Equality Florida Youth Lobby Day. “Be sure you bring it back,” he said. “You know, I’m not The young people were seeking sponsorship — or at least used to people telling me that they’ll do something and then grudging support — for the Florida Dignity for All Youth not doing it.” Of course, there wasn’t a chance in hell that I Act, which would have broadened the state’s anti-discriminawasn’t going to return that map — and in pristine condition. tion laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Trovillion and I had a few subsequent telephone converAlthough the reaction of most lawmakers ranged from resations about local history, and I enjoyed hearing his stories. served to receptive, the deeply religious Trovillion — as he I was sorry to learn two years ago that he had developed was wont to do — spoke his mind and delivered a lecture Alzheimer’s disease, but grateful that he seemed talkative that one student later described not as angry but as “grandfaand jovial at the 2018 State of the City address, where he therly.” Tone notwithstanding, the words shocked and upset was presented the Founders Award by Mayor Steve Leary. the activists. Trovillion during his mayoral years. A consequential mayor of the city and an outspoken mem“You have to suffer the consequences of your actions,” Trober of the Florida House of Representatives, Trovillion died villion told the group that visited his Tallahassee office. He just as this issue of Winter Park Magazine was going to press. He was 94 years counseled them to change their ways before it was too late. “God destroyed old, and I thought he might surpass the century mark — and keep on going. Sodom and Gomorrah, and he’s going to destroy you and a lot of others.” Trovillion’s Winter Park bona fides were impeccable. Jerry and Mary, his Letters, emails and phone calls flooded Trovillion’s office demanding his grandparents, first came to the city in 1908 from Harrisburg, Illinois, with resignation. Radio talk-show hosts and newspaper columnists throughout their 16-year-old son, Ray. They bought Maxon’s Drug Store — then locatthe state lambasted him. Even some of his Republican colleagues gingerly ed in the building that once housed Ergood’s Store and Hall, one of Winter distanced themselves. Park’s first businesses — and renamed it Trovillion’s Pharmacy. “I am a very low-key person,” said Trovillion, then age 75, who seemed someIn 1968, Ray (Allen’s father), would paint that priceless watercolor map what puzzled by the intensity of the reaction. “I can’t apologize any more than of a Winter Park that encompassed about 95 homes, 10 commercial buildPresident Bush could apologize to the Chinese. I didn’t do anything wrong.” ings, two livery stables, a golf course and the campus of Rollins College. He left office in 2002 — after being reelected four times — due to term The Winter Park Historical Association sold limited-edition prints of the limits. But if those unfortunate remarks are all you remember about Allen map in 1993, with proceeds dedicated to finding a permanent home for a city Trovillion, then you’ve done him a disservice. museum (now located in the circa-1890 South Florida Railroad depot). I always In addition to serving his community in elected office and creating an imthought the painting worked equally well as a map and as authentic folk art. portant local business, he coached baseball in the Babe Ruth League, the Pony In later years, Ray’s super-achiever son would assume his father’s ceremonial League and the Little League. He was affiliated with countless civic and charrole as a steward of the city’s heritage, and enjoyed describing the changes he itable organizations, and served for a time as a scoutmaster. He was a Rotary had witnessed in his hometown. In fact, Trovillion would be responsible for International Paul Harris Fellow and a Winter Park Jaycees Man of the Year. many of those changes. In 2017, Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary declared March 27 as Allen A graduate of Winter Park High School, he was a swimmer and played Trovillion Day, and the porch outside City Hall was formally named “Troon the basketball and football teams. (The football team went undefeated in villion Porch,” complete with rocking chairs. 1943 and won the conference championship.) Trovillion joined the Army Allen Trovillion was a man of his time and place. If some of his sincerely Air Corps during World War II and later attended the University of Florida, held political views now seem, shall we say, out of step, then so does his quaint where in 1950 he earned a degree in building construction. regard for public service, which he considered to be a means of doing good for A successful contractor, he was appointed mayor in 1962 after his prehis community (and later his country) without aggrandizing himself. In that decessor in the office, attorney Ed Gurney, resigned to run for the U.S. regard, we could use more like him.
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$10+ MILLION SOLD IN WINTER PARK • 2020
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VACANT LAND • SOLD $495,000 1650 HIGHLAND ROAD, WINTER PARK
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VACANT LAND • SOLD $1,450,000 961 N PARK AVENUE, WINTER PARK
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RANDY NOLES | Editor and Publisher THERESA SWANSON | Group Publisher/Director of Sales PHYLLIS M. MILLER | Director of Administration KATHY BYRD | Associate Publisher/Senior Account Executive DENA BUONICONTI | Associate Publisher/Account Executive CAROLYN EDMUNDS | Art Director MYRON CARDEN | Distribution Manager RAFAEL TONGOL | Photographer WILL SETZER | Digital Artist RONA GINDIN | Dining Editor MARIANNE ILUNGA | Fashion Editor HARRY WESSEL | Contributing Editor BILLY COLLINS, GREG DAWSON, MICHAEL MCLEOD | Contributing Writers
WINTER PARK PUBLISHING COMPANY LLC RANDY NOLES | Chief Executive Officer ALLAN E. KEEN | Co-Chairman, Board of Managers JANE HAMES | Co-Chairman, Board of Managers THERESA SWANSON | Vice Chairman, Board of Managers MICHAEL OKATY, ESQ. | General Counsel, Foley & Lardner LLP
COMMUNITY PARTNERS Larry and Joanne Adams; The Albertson Company, Ltd.; Richard O. Baldwin Jr.; Jim and Diana Barnes; Brad Blum; Ken and Ruth Bradley; John and Dede Caron; Bruce Douglas; Steve Goldman; Hal George; Michael Gonick; Micky Grindstaff; Sharon and Marc Hagle; Larry and Jane Hames; Eric and Diane Holm; Garry and Isis Jones; Allan E. and Linda S. Keen; Knob Hill Group (Rick and Trish Walsh, Jim and Beth DeSimone, Chris Schmidt); FAN Fund; Kevin and Jacqueline Maddron; Drew and Paula Madsen; Kenneth J. Meister; Ann Hicks Murrah; Jack Myers; Michael P. O’Donnell; Nicole and Mike Okaty; Bill and Jody Orosz; Martin and Ellen Prague; Serge and Kerri Rivera; Jon C. and Theresa Swanson; Sam and Heather Stark; Randall B. Robertson; George Sprinkel; Philip Tiedtke; Roger K. Thompson; Ed Timberlake; Harold and Libby Ward; Warren “Chip” Weston; Tom and Penny Yochum; and Victor and Jackie A. Zollo.
Copyright 2021 by Winter Park Publishing Company LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holder. Winter Park Magazine is published four times yearly by Winter Park Publishing Company LLC, 201 West Canton Avenue, Suite 125B, Winter Park, Florida 32789.
FOR GENERAL INFORMATION, CALL: 407-647-0225 For advertising information, call: Kathy Byrd, 407-399-7111; Theresa Swanson, 407-448-8414; or Dena Buoniconti, 407-832-9542 Like us on Facebook or visit us online at winterparkmag.com
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1830 GIPSON GREEN LANE WINTER PARK, FL 32789 5 BD | 5.2 BA | 6,444 SF LISTED FOR $4,195,000
Thank you to all of our clients for another top producing year. Over $27 million sold in 2020. Wishing you a Happy New Year! 2607 LAFAYETTE AVENUE • WINTER PARK
608 S. PHELPS AVENUE • WINTER PARK
459 HENKEL CIRCLE • WINTER PARK
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I’LL HAVE ANOTHER CUP OF COFFEE CYNTHIA EDMONDS’ AL FRESCO DINING IMAGE IS STILL SO WINTER PARK.
ward-winning plein-air painter Cynthia Edmonds discovered her passion for art as a youngster taking classes at the Rollins College Summer Day Camp. Now she doesn’t have to go any further than her backyard to find inspirational settings. Edmonds, who lives in the circa-1950s house where she grew up on North Phelps Avenue near Lakemont Elementary School, has cultivated what she describes as a “secret garden” just outside her doorway. It showcases an array of native plants including sand live oaks, cabbage palms, saw palmettos, coral honeysuckles and such pollinators as coontie plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. In fact, an image of her garden appeared on the cover of the Summer 2019 issue. Park Avenue Café — the third painting by Edmonds to grace a Winter Park Magazine cover – marks a departure from nature themes and captures a familiar scene at the iconic Briarpatch Restaurant, where countless Winter Parkers enjoy breakfast, lunch and people-watching. That’s never been more true than now, in the era of COVID-19, when many are choosing to dine outdoors for safety reasons. Although Park Avenue Café predates the pandemic, Edmonds updated the painting to add masks to the server and several bystanders. “This scene is so Winter Park,” says Edmonds. “I especially liked the way the figures were backlit by the sun shining from Central Park across the street. The graphic design of the awnings and roofline also appealed to me.” Edmonds, who has a bachelor’s degree in fashion illustration from Florida State University, hasn’t always painted for a living. She worked for many years as an advertising illustrator for local retailers, including Ivey’s, Jordan
Cynthia Edmonds, whose works have appeared on Winter Park Magazine covers three times, is a popular plein-air painter who lives in the house where she grew up near Lakemont Elementary School.
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Marsh and Hattie Fredrick. She later earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Florida and moved to Washington, D.C., and later Seattle. There she worked as a photo art director and catalogue designer for Nordstrom while simultaneously discovering the wonder of oil painting. “Each day, painting en plein air provided an exciting challenge to capture the ever-changing light and shadow,” she says. “Working on location inspires me in a profound way, and observing nature helps me to understand the shape, form and infinite colors of my subjects.” Edmonds, who returned to Florida in 2001, is a signature member of the American Impressionist Society and Plein Air Florida. She participates in plein-air exhibitions throughout the U.S. — including the annual Paint Out Winter Park, sponsored by the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. Edmonds’ paintings can be found in collections at the University of Central Florida and the Maitland Art Center. Her paintings are also included in the St. Joe Company’s Forgotten Coast Collection and the Shands Arts in Medicine Collection at the Venice (Florida) Regional Medical Center. Aficionados of Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival memorabilia will recall that Edmonds’ image of Greeneda Court on Park Avenue adorned the official festival poster back in 2007. Edmonds loves to paint in her wildlife habitat garden and around Winter Park, but also finds inspiration in Maine, France and Italy. More of Edmonds’ work can be seen at cynthiaedmonds.com. — Randy Noles
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PALM HILLS Coming soon to Winter Park’s booming shopping and dining district along U.S. Highway 17-92 is an extraordinary and upscale new destination, brought to you by the developers of Park Hill Townhomes on North Park Avenue. It’s a commercial project that will feature all the design sensibilities you’ll find in Hill Gray Seven LLC’s magnificent custom homes. It will be the gem of what was once called Winter Park’s Million Dollar Mile. Palm Hills will offer 25,000 square feet of luxury dining and retail space. The opportunity exists now to lease space in these stunning new buildings, which are destined to become landmarks. Palm Hills is yet another legacy project from Hill Gray Seven LLC.
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The Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation has recently begun work on a new, 16,934-square-foot headquarters to replace its existing building at the corner of East Welbourne and South Knowles avenues, a block off Park Avenue. The project will be “transformative,” according to foundation David A. Odahowski, president of the foundation for 30 years.
HERE COMES ‘THE EDYTH’ The iconic foundation launched by Mrs. Bush plans a new headquarters that will advance its mission and be transformative for downtown Winter Park. BY RANDY NOLES
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ould picture-postcard Winter Park possibly become even more exceptional? For generations it has been a hub for dining, shopping, education and the arts. And it’s one of the most charming small cities in the U.S., highlighted by genteel, old-world ambiance and the business district’s signature, oak-shaded Central Park. Rollins College, a top-rated liberal arts institution that anchors the southern terminus of Park Avenue, appears on virtually every compilation of the nation’s most beautiful campuses. And, from downtown, a half-dozen one-of-a-kind museums are within walking distance from one another. Still, despite this superabundance of style and substance, the answer to the question is yes. The city could — and soon will — increase its already off-the-charts cultural and intellectual quotient. The Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation has recently begun work on a new, 16,934-square-foot headquarters to replace its existing building at the corner of East Welbourne and South Knowles avenues, a block off Park Avenue (next to the popular Cocina 214 restaurant). But this won’t be just another building. “The Edyth,” set to be completed in 2022, will house not only the 49-year-old foundation’s administrative offices. There’ll also be community meeting spaces that will bustle with activities ranging from classes, performances, art exhibitions and more. “I think this project will be transformative,” says David A. Odahowski, now entering his 30th year as president of
the foundation. “We’ll have to start calling Park Avenue ‘The Avenue of Ideas.’” Odahowski is referring not only to the foundation’s project but also to the Innovation Triangle, which is planned by Rollins on what’s now known as the Lawrence Center — a city block bounded by New England, Interlachen, Lyman and Knowles avenues, just down the street from The Edyth. According to college officials, the 40,000-squarefoot building now occupied by Valley National Bank and other tenants would remain on the site’s northwest corner. Two new buildings — one housing the Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business and one housing the Cornell Fine Arts Museum — would be built on the southeast and northeast corners, respectively. The third component of the triangle is 72-bed expansion of the college-owned Alfond Inn. Each component of the Innovation Triangle is dependent upon fundraising, which COVID-19 has temporarily upended. Still, plans call for the project — which earned city approvals earlier this year — to continue apace when the health crisis resolves and economic stability returns. The Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, however, is pushing ahead now with a view toward positioning itself for a post-pandemic world in which philanthropy will be more important than ever. “This too shall pass,” adds Odahowski, an attorney by training who ran the Wasie Foundation in Minneapolis before finding a decidedly warmer home in sunny Central Florida. “Between our project and the Innovation Triangle, downtown Winter Park will be buzzing,” Ironically, Odahowski’s Minneapolis connection continued in Winter Park. Archibald Granville “Archie” Bush and Edyth Bassler Bush, his wife and the local foundation’s benefactor, were also from Minneapolis, and became seasonal Winter Park residents in 1949. Odahowski continues: “Our new home will reshape our ability to serve the community in a very dramatic way. Our intention is to create a gathering place that will spark creative new ideas, connect individuals and organizations doing good in the community, and provide the tools, space, and resources that many nonprofit organizations would not have access to otherwise.” Designed by SchenkelShultz Architecture, The Edyth will feature a glass facade, a two-story atrium and three levels — each with a specific purpose. The layout is comparable to a theater, a nod to Edyth’s advocacy for the arts and the foundation’s history of supporting the local arts community. The first floor will be dedicated to meeting rooms and open space for use by local groups. Odahowski describes it as “a hub for creativity
Odahowski, who prefers to keep a low profile, has nonetheless come to be known as “Mr. Winter Park” for his scrupulous stewardship of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation — which supports numerous good causes in the city where it was founded nearly 50 years ago. Odahowski has been at the foundation’s helm for 30 years.
and connection.” The second floor, dubbed “The Archibald” in honor of Edyth’s husband, will house a community board room equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The third floor will encompass administrative offices and perhaps another nonprofit tenant. Since it was formed, the foundation has distributed 4,141 grants to nonprofit organizations totaling more than $113 million. Most of the grants have gone to nonprofit organizations involved with education, healthcare and programs for the underprivileged “that help people help themselves.” But the foundation casts a wide net — and
was the first and largest contributor to the underconstruction Winter Park Public Library and Events Center in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The $750,000 matching grant gave the project — which was controversial in some quarters — a seal of approval from one of the region’s most respected philanthropic organizations. Most Central Floridians know the Bush name because of the foundation and its wide-ranging work. But the people who made it all possible have fascinating backstories. Edyth (1887-1972), whose name would one day become synonymous with philanthropic giving W INTE R 2 0 2 1 | W INT ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
PLACES in Central Florida, was a successful actress, ballet dancer and playwright until she gave up her stage career in 1919 to marry Archie (1887-1966), sales manager for the then-struggling Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing company. Archie was not wealthy at the time — but he later became the chairman and largest individual shareholder of the company known worldwide as 3M. The Bushes first visited Winter Park in 1949, buying a winter home and immersing themselves in civic life. Most notably, they donated to Rollins and helped found Winter Park Memorial Hospital (now AdventHealth Winter Park). After Archie’s death, Edyth decided to settle permanently in Winter Park and focused on giving to programs that advanced education and the arts. In 1967, for example, she funded construction of Loch Haven Park’s Central Florida Civic Theater, which was renamed the Edyth Bush Theater following her death. (It’s now known as Orlando Repertory Theater.) The Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, formed in 1973, has kept on giving. Rollins has been a major beneficiary, receiving almost $15 million — including an $800,000 gift for construction of the
Edyth Bassler Bush
original Archibald Granville Bush Science Center. (In 2013, the foundation gave another $1 million for renovation and expansion of the building.) In collaboration with the college, it operates the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, which provides consulting services to some 3,000 nonprofit executives and board members from around the country every year. In 2015, the foundation won the Outstanding Foundation Award from the Association of
138 Detmar Drive | Winter Park, FL 32789
Fundraising Professionals — earning the same honor from both the international chapter and the regional chapter — by effectively carrying out Edyth’s instructions: “Make Central Florida a better place for all of its citizens.” Odahowski, who prefers to keep a low profile, has nonetheless come to be known as “Mr. Winter Park” for his scrupulous stewardship of the foundation — which supports numerous good causes in the city where it was founded. The epitome of “Minnesota nice,” Odahowski earned a law degree from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul. He likes to point out that as a student, he studied in Hamline’s Bush Memorial Library — named for Archie Bush — never dreaming that he would someday head a foundation that would fund yet another educational building named for the self-made millionaire. “I’m always asking about the highest and best needs of the people with whom I meet,” says Odahowski. “My role is that of a fiduciary of the philanthropic legacy of Edyth Bush. It’s not my foundation, nor my money, nor my priorities. I’m here to prepare the next generation of board and staff to carry the torch and burn a brighter flame of servant leadership for the future.”
Offered at $2,250,000
This truly unique Victorian home built in the 1890s has been carefully restored, expanded and renovated with modern touches, still retaining its historic character. The property includes a 3 bedroom, 4.5 bathroom main house; detached 3-car garage with guest suite above; and complete 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom guest house — on almost 1 acre of lushly landscaped property walking distance to Park Avenue. Fabulous features include soaring ceilings, original pine floors, chef’s gourmet kitchen, and dramatic his/hers master baths and dressing room. Screened and open porches add outdoor living and entertaining space and lead to a resort-style yard with pool, cabana, summer kitchen, expansive brick patio and fireplace. You must see this property to appreciate the beauty and history.
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‘A HOME HAS TO W H E N T H E SURVIVAL O F T H E WADDELL H OU S E WAS IN DO UBT, RHETT A N D B ROOK E DELAN EY DEC IDE D TO INVEST IN WI N T ER PARK ’S PAS T. BY R AN DY N O LES P H OTO G R A P H Y BY RAFAEL TON G OL
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HAVE A SOUL’
Brooke and Rhett Delaney drove by the Waddell House nearly every day — but never imagined they’d have an opportunity to restore and occupy it. “Growing up in New Orleans, we were surrounded by history,” says Rhett. “That’s what we were accustomed to.” Adds Brooke: “In New Orleans, architecture is valued. A home has to have a soul.” W INTE R 2 0 2 1 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
Here’s how the Waddell House looked in the early part of the 20th century. The people on the porch are unidentified, but the distinctive structure — once forlorn, now under renovation — is familiar to most Winter Parkers who drive along Aloma Avenue.
“IT’S ALL A CONSPIRACY, I TELL YOU! THE MINUTE YOU START, THEY PUT YOU ON THE ALL-AMERICAN SUCKER LIST. YOU START OUT TO BUILD A HOME AND WIND UP IN THE POORHOUSE. AND IF IT CAN HAPPEN TO ME, WHAT ABOUT THE GUYS WHO AREN’T MAKING $15,000 A YEAR? THE ONES WHO WANT A HOME OF THEIR OWN. IT’S A CONSPIRACY, I TELL
RESTORATION BY WILL SETZER, DESIGN 7 STUDIOS
YOU — AGAINST EVERY BOY AND GIRL WHO WERE EVER IN LOVE!” — JIM BLANDINGS
anhattan ad man Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) has had enough of city life. Instead of a crowded apartment, he envisions a spacious, single-family home in Connecticut where he and his wife, Muriel (Myrna Loy), can put down roots and raise their children in a stress-free setting. The 1948 film, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, follows the travails of the hapless Blandings clan as they buy a home intending to remodel it, but ultimately tear it down when they learn that it’s on the verge of collapse.
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They build anew with the help of a flinty assortment of local tradespeople who explain that most aspects of the project are either impossible or twice as costly as anticipated. It’s a screwball comedy, but also a horror story. And some 65 years later, Mr. Blandings’ experience remains a cautionary tale for those who wish to remodel an old home but begin the process uninformed and unprepared. Rhett and Brooke Delaney aren’t all that different from Jim and Muriel Blandings — they’re young, earnest, enthusiastic and enamored with
historic structures. But, unlike the celluloid couple, they know exactly what they’re getting into. The Delaneys know that buying and restoring an old home with character will cost the same or more than a new home with state-of-the-art bells and whistles — and none of the headaches. Regardless, they insist, bring it on. Rhett, 36, a branch manager at Movement Mortgage, and Brooke, 32, a veterinarian at Winter Park Veterinary Hospital, moved to Central Florida from New Orleans in 2007, after Hurricane Katrina.
The Delaneys look forward to quiet afternoons on their newly constructed back porch, which is shaded by a camphor tree that’s 22 feet in circumference and probably as old as the house itself.
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C2 General Contracting in Longwood, which has its own millwork operation, is re-creating the Waddell House’s gingerbread-laden porches based on designs by architect Randy Bumbalough and old photographs of the façade.
“Growing up in New Orleans, we were surrounded by history,” says Rhett. “That’s what we were accustomed to.” Adds Brooke: “In New Orleans, architecture is valued. A home has to have a soul.” Since July, the Delaneys have been the proud owners of the Waddell House, 1331 Aloma Avenue, which was built in 1897 (or 1901, depending upon the source) by William and Cartie Waddell of Wisconsin. William Waddell served as what would now be considered a city commissioner and deputy marshal, and his wife ran the Osceola Inn. Unlike most older homes in Winter Park, the Waddell House isn’t located in College Quarter or East Virginia Heights, the city’s two designated residential historic districts. (A stretch of Interlachen Drive and Downtown Winter Park also have historic district status.) The white, two-story Victorian charmer with green trim and distinctive porches — two in the front, one for each story, and one in the rear — sits rather incongruously along a busy thoroughfare on an oversized lot (150-by-190 feet). It’s an ideal location for another of the city’s ubiquitous McMansions. Or maybe even three. In 2005, however, the families of previous owners Charles B. and Lurinda J. Smith had the home placed on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places, which offered protections from lot splitting and demolition, and required historically accurate exterior remodeling. The Smiths could have chosen to raze the 2,400-square-foot structure and, with city approval, split the lot into three 15,200 square-foot parcels. Instead, they chose to protect this genteel reminder of the city’s past. But for a time, the ges-
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ture seemed to have been in vain. In February 2019, a Tennessee couple, David Dunaway, a retired lawyer, and his wife, Deborah, a nurse practitioner, bought the Waddell House for $480,000 — without an inspection — and declared that it would become their “forever home,” according to a story about the acquisition in the Orlando Sentinel. The Dunaways assured city staffers that their intention was restoration. However, they said, all three porches — especially the front porch on the second floor — were unstable and would have to be taken out and replaced. The frilly porches, which stretched the width of the home, provided much of its charm. Of course, such structural issues wouldn’t be unexpected in a poorly maintained home more than 120 years old. But a demolition permit and approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Board would be required before work could begin. And, because of the home’s historic designation, the replacement porches would have to match the originals. Although the Dunaways applied for a permit on July 8, they inexplicably had the front and rear porches removed on July 13 — before the permit was issued and before the board had granted its stamp of approval. At that point, as one might expect, everything went off the rails. Winter Parkers, many of whom had occasion to drive past the Waddell House almost daily, were concerned when they noticed that the porches had vanished and that the structure was draped with a blue post-hurricane tarp. But concern turned to outrage when it was reported that no one in authority had signed off on the demolition. The city building department issued a stopwork order on July 15, by which time the Dun-
aways had returned to Tennessee. In the meantime, the loosely affixed tarp allowed water intrusion, which damaged the home’s horsehair plaster walls and heart of pine floors. Jeff Briggs, the usually patient but increasingly exasperated city planning manager, was initially unable to reach the Dunaways and get an explanation. Not being from Winter Park, the Dunaways had not experienced the wrath of locals when a historic structure is threatened. A “Save the Waddell House” campaign had already begun on social media when the city issued a notice of violation on October 9. On October 16, the Dunaways responded and promised to secure the tarps. But they also revealed that they had hired a structural engineer to “do a complete appraisal on the structural integrity of the home to determine if repairs are possible or feasible or if the home needs to be demolished.” Uh-oh. The tarps were secured on October 22. But when no steps were taken to restore the porches, a hearing was set before the city’s Code Enforcement Board for December 5. The board ordered the Dunaways to submit restoration plans in seven days or face a $250 fine for each day they remained in violation. Attending the meeting was the couple’s Longwood-based attorney, Kevin Donaghy, who announced that an engineer had judged the home structurally unsound. The Dunaways, Donaghy said, have “reached an impasse where they cannot afford to repair the entire home.” Why would they replace the porches on a home that they would have to tear down? It was alleged by some that the neglect was strategic. Christine Dalton, a member of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, emailed Briggs and reiterated that “this is a strategy of many property investors — create conditions for deterioration, then hire a structural engineer to write a report stating that the building is unsafe and therefore must be demolished.” Then, in a confusing sequence of events, the Dunaways reversed course and agreed to take out a loan so they could proceed with their original plans. Shortly thereafter, however, they told city officials that personal reasons would prevent them from restoring their “forever home.” Just in the nick of time, though, new buyers emerged who were eager to take on the project. Enter Rhett and Brooke Delaney, who paid the Dunaways $520,000 and closed on the increasingly forlorn Waddell House in July of 2020 — almost exactly one year following the ominous porch fiasco between the previous owners and the city. Briggs — along with hundreds of locals, many of whom were preparing to mobilize around a rescue effort — could hardly could have felt more relieved.
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“The city and the Historic Preservation Board are very fortunate to have had this property purchased by people who are willing to restore it and make it a showplace,” Briggs says. “It’s also nice to see that the city can actually enforce its regulations.” A communitywide “amen” was almost audible. The Waddell House would not need to become a cause célèbre, as had been the case with Casa Feliz and the Capen-Showalter House. “It’s incredible how well built this place is,” says Rhett as he sits outside a circa 1930s tin shed in the backyard, where a camphor tree 22 feet in circumference provides shade. Inside the home, workers tear out walls and reveal the grand old lady’s stubborn wooden bones. “Old homes like this are worth saving. I hope it lasts another 123 years.” The Delaneys will add about 1,800 square feet of living area through a two-story extension at the rear that will encompass a first-floor office and a second-floor master bedroom. The addition will feature a wraparound back porch. There’ll also be two-and-a-half bathrooms added to the existing two bathrooms (neither of which, oddly, are located downstairs). Later, a carriage house will be built on the west side and connected
to the main structure by a porte cochere. The circular driveway will be lined by bricks delineating a period-appropriate oyster shell driving surface. Rhett adds that no major surprises have been encountered so far, except for evidence that a squatter had lived in the home’s attic. As it happened, an unauthorized tenant had indeed been ushered out by the Winter Park Police Department in 2018 — but left some of his belongings behind. The project architect is Randy Bumbalough of Arc Design Lab in Orlando, while the general contractor is C2 General Contracting in Longwood. C2 has its own millwork operation and, in addition to overseeing the renovation, is re-creating the gingerbread-laden porches based on designs by Bumbalough and old photographs of the home. “Hopefully when we’re done, no one would know at a glance that the porches aren’t exactly what they were originally,” says Mark Chipperfield, C2’s general manager. Rhett says the project will be complete by September 2021, at which time he and Brooke — plus a child due in December 2020 and three talkative parrots — will move from an old home into an even older one. The couple currently lives on Hollywood Avenue in what may be the city’s only remaining
Sears Roebuck kit home. What will the ultimate tab be for this labor of love? The Delaneys demure when asked to discuss costs — but it wouldn’t be surprising if rehabilitation of the existing structure, construction of the additions and furnishing the home (mostly with antiques, they say) totals as much or more than the purchase price. So what? In Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, naysaying attorney Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas) gives his friends Jim and Muriel some rare encouragement when their home is finally completed, revealing in his contrition that he has finally come to understand what’s truly important: “Ever since this thing started, I’ve been the voice of doom about the project. Every step of the way I’ve been convinced that you were getting fleeced, bilked, rooked, flimflammed and generally taken to the cleaners. Maybe you were. Maybe it cost a lot more than you thought it would. Maybe there were times when you wish you’d never started. But when I look at what you two have got here … well, I don’t know.” Then the Cole character hits the proverbial nail on the head: “Maybe there are some things you should buy with your heart, not your head.”
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THE BEST OF WINTER PARK
record-breaking 35,000 votes were cast during the 2020 Best of Winter Park competition sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. That’s 22,000 more votes than the 13,000 votes cast last year — which was itself a record. Voting was conducted online by the chamber to determine local favorites in an array of categories. Awards were presented in late October during ceremonies at the Winter Park Community Center. The chamber’s partner for Best of Winter Park was Winter Park Magazine, while the presenting sponsor was Park Smiles Dentistry. Supporting sponsors were The Mayflower at Winter Park and Renewal by Andersen. In-kind sponsors included Florida Distributing Company (for the beer tent), Jen Adams and Associates (for the photography) and I Rent Everything (for event equipment). Best Accountant
Fairwinds Credit Union
Best Lunch on the Go
310 Park South
Best Medical Practice
Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine Institute
Best Car Dealership
Car & Quest
Best Museum/Art Gallery
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
Best Community Event
Winter Park High School Restore the Roar
Best Men’s Store
Siegel’s Winter Park
Best Mortgage Broker/Title Firm
Land Home Financial Services
Park Smiles Dentistry
Best Community Organization
Winter Park Public Library
Best Performing Arts
Winter Park Playhouse
Jen Adams & Associates
The Glass Knife
Best Place to Take Visitors
Scenic Boat Tour
Best Dinner Spot
Best Power Lunch
Security Financial Management
Winter Park Magazine
Best Financial Planning Best Florist
Best Residential Real Estate Firm
Fannie Hillman + Associates
Best Happy Hour
Agave Azul Winter Park
Best Retail Therapy
The Spice & Tea Exchange
Best Home Builder
Phil Kean Designs
Best Hospital/Urgent Care
AdventHealth Winter Park
The Mayflower at Winter Park
Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando
Best Senior Living Community Best Travel Agency
Go Travel The Alfond Inn at Rollins
Best IT Services
Lane Technology Solutions
Best Wedding Venue
Be On Park
Best Women’s Store
Monkee’s of Winter Park
Swann Hadley Stump Dietrich & Spears, P.A.
The Bar Method
Best Law Firm
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W INTE R 2 0 2 1 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
Expect retirement to be the best phase of your life. UCF PRESIDENT EMERITUS
At the helm of UCF, Dr. Hitt spent his career amid intellectual distinction and the opportunities that abound at a world-class university. It’s exactly what he and his wife, Martha, can expect as future residents of Legacy Pointe. Promising new experiences, accomplished neighbors and a plan for whatever comes next, Legacy Pointe is more than a retirement community. It’s the unveiling of a higher standard in engaged senior living.
AN INSTITUTE OF HIGHER LIVING
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Meet a Dozen Millennials and Generation Xers Who are Ushering Winter Park into the Future. By the Editors Photography by Rafael Tongol
ho’ll lead Winter Park into the future? Who are the People to Watch? It’s a valid question, since most of the city’s highest-profile movers and shakers seem to be baby boomers and beyond. Winter Park Magazine’s annual compilation of the Most Influential People has featured a handful of under-40 honorees — although many more have tended to be, well, a little older than that. Consequently, we’ve had several suggestions to initiate a similar annual list exclusively for the city’s up-and-comers (and, of course, those who’ve already arrived but may yet embark on new adventures). The first such list was published last year. Those featured included Clayton Louis Ferrara, Michelle Heatherly, Chase Heavener, the Hill Brothers (Drew, Gray and Gregg Jr.), Chris King, Amie Morgan, the Orosz Brothers (Matt, Steve and Andrew), Emily Russell, Taylor Womack and Adam Wonus. Once again, we found no shortage of millennials (often defined as being born between 1981 to 1996) who are making a mark and belong on our 2021 list. The same was true of Generation Xers (often defined as being born between 1965 to 1980). From those demographic cohorts, we selected a diverse assortment of intriguing honorees based upon feedback from past Most Influential People of all ages. We also sought nominations through social media, and selected several through our own interactions with local civic leaders. The criteria, beyond demographics, were broad. We sought people who were activists, influencers, creators, givers and entrepreneurs who were personally interesting and were making positive things happen. People to Watch, then, is essentially an extension of our well-established Most Influential People list. Its existence doesn’t mean that those under 40 may not still be selected for our more traditional annual Influentials list. The additional list, however, makes room for some Winter Parkers whose most important contributions may be yet to come. We wanted to limit People to Watch to 10, but ended up with a 13 (including a pair of siblings). In any case, there were far more nominees than space to profile them — which demonstrated that this project has staying power for years to come. On the following pages, then, are an assortment of younger people who are doing remarkable things and are leaders in the community’s business, creative, charitable and philanthropic worlds. So, let’s meet Winter Park Magazine’s 2021 People to Watch.
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Sydney Bellows Brownlee Vice President, Leasing and Property Manager, Sydgan Corporation
Morgan Bellows Vice President, Construction Property Manager, Sydgan Corporation When hard-charging Winter Park developer Dan Bellows renamed his company Sydgan Corporation, it wasn’t just a loving father’s homage to his young children, Sydney and Morgan (“syd” plus “gan” equals “Sydgan”). “I knew that I’d be in business with my kids in the future,” says the elder Bellows, best known for morphing Hannibal Square into a trendy shopping and dining destination. “But I didn’t pressure either of them. They made their own decisions to come aboard.” Sydney, 27, vice president and leasing and property manager, joined the family business in 2014. Morgan, 30, vice president and construction project manager, followed two years later. They arrived via very different paths, reflecting their yin and yang personalities. “Morgan was happy to work on his studies,” says Sydney. “I was the cheerleader.” Following graduation from Winter Park High School, Sydney studied arts and media culture at King’s College in New York, where she interned at the Rachael Ray Show. She also founded a nonprofit called Better Than a Cupcake, which held an annual fashion event that showcased student-designed clothing and raised money to benefit a children’s charity. (The effort was inspired, she says, by Winter Park Fashion Week.) But after two years in the Big Apple, she returned home and earned a degree in event management from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Morgan, also a Winter Park High School graduate, went to Auburn for its excellent building construction program — not a surprising choice considering his lifelong familiarity with construction sites. The siblings worked at different jobs — she in marketing, he in construction management — before joining their dad to help manage his ever-expanding portfolio, most notably Ravaudage, a 73-acre mixed-use project underway at Lee Road and U.S. Highway 17-92. In addition, Sydney and Morgan are involved in a nonprofit called Traditional Neighborhoods — she’s president, he’s vice president — that works to improve the lives of young people on the city’s west side. In 2013, the organization spearheaded relocation of the west side’s historic Grant Chapel to a triangular parcel at New York and Lyman avenues. As part of the move, the company renovated the structure, renaming it the Chapel & Hudson’s Cellar Hannibal Square and repurposing it as a venue to host weddings and other special events. Fictional portrayals such as HBO’s Succession suggest that a family business can be perilous and fraught with melodrama — but not in this case. “My granddad ran a business for 50 years with a lot of our family involved, and showed me how it can work,” Bellows says, referring to the fondly remembered Bellows TV Town. “We all do what we’re good at. I have my area, Sydney has hers and Morgan has his. Being able to trust one another and have undying loyalty is awesome.” Sydney and her husband, Chapman Brownlee, have a daughter, Alli, 2, and a son, Thomas, born in October. Morgan and his wife, Tristan, have a daughter, Avery, 1. The kids will be able to grow up with one another; Morgan lives in Hannibal Square on Virginia Avenue, while Sydney is awaiting completion of a new home nearby. “We’re diagonal to each other,” she says. “I can throw a rock and hit his driveway!”
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Amy Calandrino Founding Principal/ Broker, Beyond Commercial “You won’t be surprised to know I cooked 10 pounds of chicken over the weekend for arroz con pollo,” says Amy Calandrino, laughing. Not if you’re a regular visitor to Amy’s Apron, a food-and-lifestyle blog addressing everything from soup to nuts to Amy’s weight (“Amy’s down 50 pounds!”). The only surprise is that Calandrino, 36, has time to own and operate a commercial real estate company (Beyond Commercial) and a digital advertising and marketing company (Verde Works). She also helps manage her husband Phil’s law firm and is a tireless civic powerhouse. The subtitle of her blog — “On the Back Burner: The Adventures of Amy in and around the Kitchen” — is a misnomer. There’s seemingly no back burner in Calandrino’s life. It’s all bubbling away on a massive front burner. A classic Type A personality, she hasn’t slowed down despite having a 1-year-old son, Giovanni, and a baby girl is due next April. However, lest anyone suspect a Superwoman complex, Calandrino is bracingly honest: “I don’t do my own laundry or clean my own house. I have a management company for that.” Which is good news for organizations such as Easterseals, the Victim Service Center of Central Florida, the Valencia College Foundation scholarship program and Inspire Central Florida (training and employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities), for which she advocates. In addition to numerous accolades from real estate organizations, Calandrino was named the 2017 Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year. She’s also a graduate of the chamber’s Leadership Winter Park program and immediate past president of the program’s Alumni Council. Calandrino grew up in a working-class home in Vermont, not far from the Canadian border, and in 2007 became the first in her family to earn a college degree (from Rollins College, where she majored in English). Long before Amy’s Apron, Calandrino learned the importance of feeding the soul. “I spent at least a day a week at nursing homes growing up,” she says. “On Sunday, I’d roll the patients to church, roll them to lunch and roll them back, then sit down and talk to them about history. I loved hearing their stories. It was like having a living book in front of you.” She’s even thought about telling her own story: “I think my first book would be titled I Never Met a Stranger.”
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The Mosley Team is powered by the husband-wife duo of Alison and Frank Mosley, combined with the enduring brand of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. Together, they provide extraordinary marketing services locally and globally for listings at every price point. Through state-of-the-art digital marketing tools and virtual technology, they will continue to provide you with extraordinary services. The Mosleys’ collaborative approach, creative marketing strategies and exceptional negotiating capabilities have contributed to multimillion-dollar sales volume year after year.
EXPERIENCE MATTERS, ALWAYS. 1300 North Park Avenue, Winter Park, Florida 32789 | $3,295,000 | 5 bedrooms | 5 full baths | 2 half baths | 6,214 square feet Located on one of the most prestigious streets in Winter Park, walk to Park Avenue shops and dining. This one-of-a-kind gated estate with guesthouse offers the perfect combination of sophisticated living and casual elegance and is exquisitely appointed.
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1200 Whitesell Drive, Winter Park, Florida 32789 | $1,950,000 | 5 bedrooms | 4 full baths | 3,768 square feet An exceptionally designed single-story modern home situated on over one-third of an acre in the Vias of Winter Park, showcases a beautiful balance of bringing the outdoors in, and offers modern sophistication blended in an open concept living plan.
Sotheby’s International Realty® and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity. Property information herein is derived from various sources including, but not limited to, county records and multiple listing services, and may include approximations. All information is deemed accurate.
Ali DeMaria Executive Director, Winter Park Day Nursery Ali DeMaria always thought she wanted to work with children. But after graduating from the University of Colorado with a degree in psychology, she didn’t have a more specific career path in mind. “So, I waited tables,” she says. “Isn’t that what all psychology grads do?” During college, she had taken a semester off to lifeguard at Walt Disney World and work as a server at Planet Hollywood in Disney Springs, where she developed a fondness for Central Florida’s warm weather. After graduating, she relocated from the chilly Rocky Mountains and took a job as trainer and server at Mimi’s Cafe at the Mall at Millenia. Little did she know, she was setting the table for her future. “I found myself spending more time with the children of the guests than the adults,” she says. “I was carrying babies around with me in the restaurant while the families ate.” Suddenly, her path was clear. DeMaria added “interested in working with children” to her CareerBuilder profile and soon got a call from the Winter Park Day Nursery, a beloved local institution founded in 1939 to serve working mothers whose husbands were in the military during World War II. DeMaria joined the nonprofit nursery in 2005 as a teacher, and later became family services coordinator and director of education before then-board chair David Isaacson, an investment advisor, made her an offer that she thought she could refuse: executive director. “I don’t have a business degree,” she told him, “I’m six months pregnant. Are you sure this is what you want to do?” Isaacson was sure — and a decade later, no one has any regrets. DeMaria, who turned 40 in January, found her calling as a director who “has done pretty much every job in the building.” She has raised staff retention — which for decades fluctuated between 40 and 60 percent — to 92 percent. She and her husband, Geoff Lee, have a son: Dillon, 8, who was the inspiration for arguably her most notable achievement — adding a program at the nursery for infants and toddlers. And all the while she’s kept learning, earning a master’s degree in mental health counseling and a certificate in marriage and family therapy from Rollins College in 2010 and 2011. Shortly thereafter, she also notched advanced level childcare and education program director credentials from the Florida Department of Children and Families.
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Kimberly Devitt Manager, Business Development, Corkcicle Kimberly Devitt, along with three siblings, sat on the board of a charitable nonprofit as a teenager. Like making their beds and eating their veggies, says Devitt, it was a house rule for the youngsters to serve on the board of the Anderson-Devitt Foundation, set up by their parents to “instill the idea in us of giving back.” Each child — Devitt thinks of them collectively as “the Brady Bunch” — was given the opportunity, after conducting thorough due diligence, to choose an organization for support. Devitt’s first recipient was the First United Methodist Church of Winter Park, which was raising funds for a mission trip. The experience launched her on a path of volunteerism that today finds her involved with more than a half-dozen organizations — from the Joe R. Lee Branch of the Boys & Girls Club of Florida in Eatonville to Young Professionals Winter Park, a program of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. Naturally, she’s still involved in her family’s foundation as well. With degrees in public relations and mass communication from the University of Florida, Devitt gravitated to the cyber universe of websites, blogs, digital marketing and search-engine optimization. In 2016, a friend suggested that she apply at a new Maitland-based company with a cool — and we do mean cool — product. Shortly thereafter, Devitt became the second full-time employee at Corkcicle, which had developed an iceless in-bottle wine chiller, as marketing manager. Today, she’s head of business development at the upstart startup, which in 2019 notched $66.7 million in sales of sustainably manufactured canteens, mugs, tumblers, cups, lunchboxes, cooler bags, bar accessories and household goods galore. A portion of the proceeds help support clean-water initiatives around the world. Devitt’s proudest professional moment was becoming the youngest person ever named to the board of directors of the Public Relations Society of America (Orlando Branch). The personal achievement that might please her parents the most isn’t listed on her resumé. “The pandemic has given me a chance to reconnect with many people,” she says. “I kept hearing from friends asking if anyone is hiring. So, I’ve been able to leverage my network to connect job seekers with employers. It’s nothing fancy. I have a Google spreadsheet to keep track of who is hiring and who’s landed jobs. With so many people out of work, every placement has become especially meaningful to me. I find it incredibly fulfilling.”
Jeremy DiGorio Director of Finance and Treasury, Rollins College Jeremy DiGorio is the human opposite of Halley’s Comet, which appears once every 75 years. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that DiGorio, 32, can be seen every 75 minutes on the campus of Rollins College, where he’s director of finance and treasury. “I need to be around people all the time,” says the self-confessed “extreme extravert.” DiGorio’s husband, Neal Robinson, gently encourages his high-energy spouse to spend at least one work night per week at home. But birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim and Jeremy’s gotta connect. It’s true that DiGorio’s rather dry job title, redolent of numbers and graphs, doesn’t sync with his technicolor persona. “When people meet me and I tell them what I do, they do a double take,” he admits. The title also belies perhaps DiGorio’s greatest gift: leadership training. His goal is to help people discover their unique talents — sometimes hidden even to themselves — and to focus on putting those talents to good use. That’s why, in addition to his responsibilities within the college’s financial operation, he teaches undergraduate courses in leadership and serves as an informal leadership mentor to members of the campus community. “As a country, we see charismatic, outspoken individuals as leaders,” notes DiGorio, who began his Rollins career in 2013 as assistant director of its Center for Leadership and Community Engagement. In that position, he developed mentorships, workshops and conferences focused on leadership skills. (Previously, he had been a graduate assistant for Leadership Programs at the University of Connecticut, where he earned a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs.) DiGorio, who completed the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Leadership Winter Park program in 2019, believes that you don’t have to be bombastic to be effective. That’s why he strives to discover those who exude quiet authority but may lack the confidence required to take charge. “I help them have positivity and confidence in their skill set,” he says, recalling that as a kid he gave his little sister “fake math tests” to help her succeed in school. “It’s about connecting people with their passion, so they connect to action.” Even DiGorio’s daydream involves a leadership position: “In 20 years, I’d love to be a full-time professional driver for the Winter Park Boat Tour.” And beyond that? “I hope eventually to be a leader in my retirement community.”
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Brad Doster Founder and CEO, Macro Re When the proposal for a new Winter Park Library and Events Center became embroiled in controversy and acrimonious debate, the library board of directors was fortunate to have been headed by someone with experience being calm in the eye of a storm. And, best of all, he was a proven winner. Board president Brad Doster, 36, was a four-sport standout at Winter Park High School — golf, football, lacrosse and volleyball — where he was known for imperturbable leadership and making clutch plays. As a freshman, Doster led the Wildcat golfers to a second-place finish in the state tournament and earned a scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where (also as a Wildcat) he captained the golf team and became an All-SEC player. After college, Doster signed a development deal with Nike and gave himself three years to “see if I can get to the show [pro tour]. When that didn’t happen, I got out and got a job in the real world.” An Academic AllAmerican, Doster’s business degree led him to the financial services industry. But his civic involvement was sparked by Chris Gardner, CEO of Hub International Florida, an insurance brokerage where Doster was vice president of financial services. “Chris helped me understand there are other things in life besides yourself, and that community involvement is important,” says Doster, whose name may be familiar to longtime residents through the family-owned floor-covering business established by his grandfather. (Doster Floor Covering was sold in 1996.) “I didn’t fully appreciate that as a 27- to 28-year-old.” He polished his game through the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Leadership Winter Park program, and served a term on the city’s parks and recreation advisory board before being selected for the library board eight years ago. He was named board president in 2018 and served two terms — during which years of being yelled at by coaches prepared him well. One man, Doster recalls, “came up to me after a presentation and said, ‘How can you sleep at night with this project?’ I know change is hard, but once it’s finished, everyone is going to look back and be very pleased it happened.” Doster and his wife, Carlea, have a daughter, Campbell, 5, and a son, Bradley, 3. “I can’t wait to take my kids to the new library and share all the special experiences they’ll have.” In 2020, Doster founded and became CEO of Macro Re, a national network of insurance and financial experts specializing in the protection of business assets.
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Kyle Dudgeon Assistant Division of Director of Economic Development, City of Winter Park He’s an Infrastructure Nerd by day, a Ninja Warrior by night. Make that would-be Ninja Warrior. “I’ve always wanted to compete on [the reality TV show] American Ninja Warrior,” says Kyle Dudgeon. “I’ve had a few injuries that have prevented me from training, but maybe one day I’ll get there.” Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Nerd remains a warrior for Winter Park. Dudgeon, 34, is the city’s assistant division director for economic development, which includes management of its Community Redevelopment Agency. The CRA collects tax increment finance revenue and implements strategic plans and economic development initiatives to benefit designated areas, including downtown Winter Park (which encompasses the Park Avenue and Hannibal Square business districts) and the burgeoning U.S. Highway 17-92 corridor. It’s a bureaucratic mouthful, but it’s also music to your ears if you’re into such matters as parking studies, sewer connections and traffic flow. Dudgeon is all in. He grows passionate recalling when, as Casselberry’s economic development planner, he recruited residents to help paint a colorful street mural. “It’s pretty neat,” he says. “It slows traffic and brings character and distinction to the neighborhood.” In Winter Park, Dudgeon — who joined the city in 2014 as its economic development planner — was facilitator (one of his favorite words) of such projects as the narrowing of Denning Drive from four lanes to three lanes, with the addition of landscaping and installation of a multiuse trail on the east side. The project was recognized by the Florida Redevelopment Association as the best transportation and transit enhancement in 2019. Dudgeon is also the city’s liaison with such business advocacy groups as the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. “I’ll be the first to tell you it’s not me on my own,” he says. “It requires a team above all else.” Dudgeon grew up in Buffalo, New York, where he played in a state championship marching band and later served as an intern for the U.S. congressman for whom his mother worked. “It was instilled in me early,” says Dudgeon. “I come from a family that values helping others and providing opportunities for people other than yourself.” Dudgeon’s eclectic vision is evident in his journey at the University of Buffalo, where he began as an architecture major and earned degrees in environmental design and urban planning. In his current role, “there’s never a shortage of engagement,” he says. “Whether it’s music, art, health, education, real estate, finance, entrepreneurship, housing or nonprofit work — there’s some way to be involved and make an impact.”
William “Will” Grafton IV Certified Financial Planner, Grafton Wealth Management at Merrill Bank of America When William “Will” Grafton IV was growing up, “each Thanksgiving there were always a couple of people at the table who nobody knew.” They were strangers — people in need of food or warmth or simply a family for a day. Grafton’s mother, Sue, never wanted anyone to go without, and instilled a spirit of giving in her children. “If someone needed help, she was the one who would be there,” says Grafton, 34, who as an adult would model those lessons in compassion as a volunteer for a host of organizations, including the Winter Park YMCA Family Center; the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens; the Victory Cup Initiative, an annual best-practices competition for local charities; and the Finley Project, a nonprofit that offers a holistic care program for grieving mothers who have lost an infant. Grafton says he was also in awe of his dad, William III, who inspired him to seek a career in financial management. That may sound like an odd choice for a 5-year-old boy, who’s more likely to want to be firefighters, ballplayers or dump-truck drivers. But when Grafton’s teacher asked her students to draw a picture of what they would look like as adults, young Will’s stick figure sported a friendly smile, an ill-fitting business suit and red power tie. The caption read: “I am a bank man.” Grafton’s ambition never wavered — well, except perhaps for “the pipe dream of being a basketball player.” As a student at Winter Park High School, Grafton had grown to 6-foot-5 and played varsity hoops for the Wildcats. (He was also a high jumper for the track team.) But, realizing that he would never be another Pete Maravich — his idol — he remained on his original career track as president of the school’s accounting club. After earning a financial services degree at the University of North Florida, Grafton joined his dad’s firm — which started as Grafton Wealth Management and is now Grafton Wealth Management at Merrill Bank of America — as a certified financial planner. “What I wanted to do came to fruition,” he says. “I don’t see myself doing anything else.” Grafton and his wife, Kyle, have two children — William Grafton V, 5, and Eloise, 2. Now he’s the role model — albeit a modest one. “I don’t love to talk about myself,” he says. “I prefer that people see me as someone who leads by example, doing the right things at the right time.”
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C O N G R AT U L AT I O N S
MORGAN BELLOWS and SYDNEY BELLOWS BROWNLEE
For your continued success with Sydgan Corporation and for being among Winter Park Magazine’s 2020 “People to Watch!”
Shown are The Chapel & Hudson’s Cellar Hannibal Square and Ravaudage, including the Hilton Garden Inn, developed by Sydgan Corporation.
Post Office Box 350 Winter Park, FL 32790 407-644-3151 sydgan.com
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Juan Hollingsworth Intern Architect, HuntonBrady President, Hannibal Square Community Land Trust Board of Directors For Juan Hollingsworth, board president of the nonprofit Hannibal Square Community Land Trust, life keeps coming full circle. The Chicago native earned a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, located just two blocks from the now-demolished housing project where his mother grew up. Now, Hollingsworth is deeply involved in an organization dedicated to making the dream of homeownership a reality for low- and moderate-income families. The trust — created in 2003 over concern about the displacement of west side residents due to soaring property values — acquires property, builds or rehabs homes and offers 99-year ground leases to qualified buyers, thereby removing the often-prohibitive cost of land from the equation. If you’re looking for a success story, then look no further than Hollingsworth and his wife, Marketa, a third-generation Winter Parker, who bought their first home from the trust. Eight years later, they had built up enough equity to sell it — the maximum allowable profit is capped — and upsize as their family expanded to include a daughter, now 7, and a son, now 2. “I believe a home is the gateway to building family wealth,” says Hollingsworth, who became the first homeowner in his family. “That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing on the board.” An intern architect at HuntonBrady Architects, Hollingsworth, 38, will achieve architect status after taking the requisite licensing exams — which he says he’ll do “when my kids let me.” However, his intern status belies the important work Hollingsworth has done for the firm. He was, for example, a project architect/coordinator — from schematics to completion — for the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Hollingsworth also hopes to eventually revive “Sole Survivor,” a sneaker business he started a decade ago but had to set aside because of other demands on his time. And, perhaps most important, he wants his family — particularly his mother, Paula, who “worked really hard not to put us in housing projects” — to experience the satisfaction and security of owning a home. Says Hollingsworth: “I want to renovate a home or multiunit residential building — hopefully something historic — for my mother when she retires.”
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The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce congratulates our two Board Members recently named as
People To Watch by Winter Park Magazine
AMY CALANDRINO, CCIM
Founding Principal Beyond Commercial
WILL POWER. Congratulations, William Daniel “Will” Grafton IV, for being named one of Winter Park Magazine’s 2020 People to Watch. We’re so proud of you — and proud of everything you’ve done to make Winter Park such a special place to live.
Much love from your family. “The Fam”
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Whitney Melton Laney Realtor, Fannie Hillman + Associates Whitney Melton Laney didn’t set out to be an exemplar of the maxim that “virtue is its own reward.” It just happened that way. Laney, a Realtor with Fannie Hillman + Associates, has served as emcee for events sponsored by local chapters of the American Cancer Society, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Children’s Home Society of Florida. Earlier this year, she co-chaired (with Sarah Grafton, a past Influential) “A Pair to Remember,” a fashion show at the Mall at Millenia to raise funds for Easterseals Florida. And from 2008 to 2011, she was event coordinator for the “Baby DJ” Christmas toy drive at WXXL-FM (FM106.7), where she was an on-air personality. In memory of a friend who took his own life, in 2011 Laney founded the Donald L. DeVane Foundation to raise funds for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. And she has made multiple life-affirming mission trips to the Philippines to work with the Bob (father of Tim) Tebow Evangelistic Association. Lifting up others began early for Laney: “When I was really little, I remember going with my mom to Harbor House [for women and children fleeing abusive domestic situations]. We hung out in the cafeteria, talked to them and served them food. I realized then how fortunate I was.” Since then, every time Laney has seen an opportunity to lend her head, heart and hands to help people in need, she has seized it. When Hurricane Dorian shattered the Bahamas in 2019, Laney coordinated a grassroots relief effort that included Air Unlimited, a local aircraft charter company, and hurried to the devastated Caribbean nation to personally deliver food and medical supplies. “I saw things and heard stories you can only know if you were there,” she says. “I always cry when I talk about it.” Laney, 36, previously an on-air personality at WPOZ-FM (better known as Z88.3), is also a dynamic public speaker who tackles such topics as self-esteem and bullying. In addition, she’s a member of the Winter Park Public Library board of directors. For all her farflung contributions, Laney says her most rewarding adventure has been raising her children. EDITOR’S NOTE: Readers with sharp memories will remember that Whitney Melton Laney was also one of Winter Park Magazine’s Most Influential People earlier in 2020. However, due to an editor’s error, the profile that was published contained several factual misstatements. How could we rectify the mistakes? Well, since Laney is also under age 40, this issue’s People to Watch feature seemed to offer a perfect opportunity to re-run the corrected profile. Also, since the earlier Influentials issue, Laney has married Frank Butterfield, an executive vice president of sales and marketing, and the couple’s blended family includes four children, two boys and two girls.
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Kesha Thompson Recreation Coordinator, City of Winter Park Department of Parks & Recreation Kesha Thompson’s official job title in the city’s Parks & Recreation Department is recreation coordinator, which offers no hint of her unofficial job as respected community counselor and role model for youngsters. For nearly two decades at the department, most recently as its senior administrative staffer, Thompson, 37, has offered a sounding board and sympathetic ear for all who need one. “For some reason, kids like me a lot,” says Thompson, which isn’t particularly surprising since she has five of her own — ranging in age from 6 months to 14 years — in a blended family with her husband, Eric. For some reason, non-kids like Thompson a lot, too. “I love talking to seniors,” she says. As part of her job, Thompson — who was raised in Hannibal Square — is a city liaison to the annual Unity Heritage Festival at Shady Park, which attracts an older crowd. “I just love listening to all their stories,” she says. Still, it’s Thompson’s affinity for young people — especially girls, who gravitate toward her — that has allowed her to influence so many young lives. “I’m not as young as them, but I’m not so old that I can’t relate,” she notes. “I tell them to set high standards for themselves and to go for whatever they want.” Thompson’s personal mission statement on her Facebook page says it all: “Here’s to strong women — may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.” What now looks like destiny for a natural people person was, in fact, serendipity. As a Winter Park High School junior, Thompson took a job as a summer camp counselor and joined the city full time right after graduation. Now in her 19th year as a municipal employee, she realizes that she could have sought a higher-paying position in the private sector. And she still wants to finish college — which she advises her young protégés to do — and perhaps pursue paralegal studies. “I started and stopped and started and stopped” at Valencia College and Seminole State College, she says. But, she adds, “I love my job — I love the interaction I have daily with so many different people.” What’s not to love? Helping uplift and inspire her fellow citizens — especially young people — every day. Does it get any better than that?
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Laura Walda Shareholder, Lowndes Laura Walda’s proudest personal achievement, second only to “marrying my best friend (David Meek II),” is running a marathon. “It was one and done for me,” she says. “I’m slow.” But she’s also steady and undaunted. Walda, 38, a shareholder at the Lowndes law firm, has a track record of taking on steep uphill challenges — starting with her entry into the legal profession in the aftermath of the Great Recession. “Not the best time,” she says. At Lowndes, the cum laude graduate of the Indiana University School of Law was assigned to the firm’s commercial real estate practice, a realm historically dominated by men. She has since thrived as lead or co-counsel on numerous multimillion-dollar transactions. And on January 1, she took the reins as president of the Orlando chapter of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women), a 12,000-member organization working to advance the careers of women in commercial real estate. In Winter Park, Walda has served on the city’s planning and zoning board and the advisory board of Keep Winter Park Beautiful and Sustainable. And she’s the new president of the board of directors of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. (As a law student, Walda was a summer clerk for now-retired Ninth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Walter Komanski, whose wife, Debbie, is the Polasek’s executive director and CEO.) “Winter Park is a very special place to live, but change is going to happen,” she says. “We need to embrace change that makes sense for families and business. I’m a person of compromise. I believe that’s the way things get done — by having conversations where you can get to ‘yes.’” Walda is also an active member of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, serving on its board of directors and its government affairs committee. She also graduated from the chamber’s Leadership Winter Park program. And, as if Walda didn’t have enough on her docket, there’s also WP Voter, which she started last year with three friends to get more locals under age 50 to the polls during municipal elections. “I love 70-year-olds,” she says. “Both my parents are over 70. But we also need younger voices at the table.” In the 2020 city commission races, the percentage of under-50 voters rose from 8 percent to almost 30 percent, she says. A great start, but as Walda knows, it’s not a sprint — it’s a marathon.
IT’S A WHALE OF A COLLECTION
BILLY COLLINS IS A SHREWD CRAFTSMAN AND A PUCKISH STORYTELLER. BY MICHAEL MCLEOD Billy Collins once compared what he does for a living to taking people out for a drive and then dropping them off in a cornfield, a little dazed but none the worse for wear. Good thing for him that it’s just a metaphor, given how hard cornfields are to come by in Winter Park, where the 79-year-old native New Yorker and former two-term U.S. poet laureate has been living since 2007. Good thing for us, too, now that it’s time for another joyride. Whale Day: And Other Poems (Random House, 2020), published in September, is Collins’ 13th volume of verse — and his sixth since moving to the home near downtown where he lives with his wife, Suzannah. The previous book, The Rain in Portugal, was a New York Times bestseller. The new collection demonstrates that Collins, who has been described as the most popular poet in the country, remains a shrewd craftsman and puckish storyteller. As is his custom, Collins named his latest collection using the title of one of its poems, which in this case revolves around his whimsical suggestion that we ought to create a holiday to honor whales in recognition of their epic circumnavigating: So is it too much to ask that one day a year be set aside for keeping in mind while we step onto a bus, consume a ham sandwich, or stoop to pick up a coin from a sidewalk the multitude of these mammoth creatures coasting between the continents, some for the fun of it, others purposeful in their journeys. Collins is a dedicated and imaginative ferryman, ever ready to arrange transport for himself and his readers through the lukewarm haze of day-to-day life toward humble or hidden wonders more often near than far. Here he is, in “Walking My Seventy-Five-Year-Old Dog,” traversing his usual route with an elderly canine companion: She’s painfully slow, so I often have to stop and wait while she examines some roadside weeds as if she were reading the biography of a famous dog. Here he is in the grocery store produce aisle with a poem dubbed “Banana School,” which revolves around his recent discovery — no telling where he heard it — that humans are the only primates who peel the eponymous fruit from the curved stalk at the top.
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This poem is not the quirky little confection you might initially take it to be. It’s a love poem that emphasizes how lucky some of us are to be blessed with the company of someone who always has our back. In its simplicity, it says more about relationships — and says so more powerfully — than the most florid epics you’ll ever plow through. Collins travels widely — at least he did before the virus descended — and there are dispatches from abroad in Whale Day that showcase his inventive descriptiveness. Here are four stanzas I especially like, from “Lakeside Cottage: Ontario,” in which Collins shares both the sight of Canada geese and the emotions engendered by watching them in flight:
The day I learned that monkeys as well as chimps, baboons, and gorillas all peel their bananas from the other end and use the end we peel from as a handle, I immediately made the switch. Go ahead. We’ll wait. Try it. It will make you wonder where else along the line we as a species have gone terribly, terribly wrong. Then take the time to consider whether you favor sleeping on your right side or your left. This is not generally a topic that comes up in casual conversation. But that’s why Billy Collins is the poet laureate and we are not — or as he would say: “Poets have to keep track of these things.” Hence: In “Sleeping on My Side,” one of several poems in which Collins has his poetic persona speak as if addressing a close friend, an acquaintance, a perfect stranger — or, in this case, his wife — he muses: At home, it’s the east I ignore, with its theaters and silverware, as I face the adventurous west. But when I’m out on the road in some hotel’s room 213 or 402 I could be pointed anywhere. yet I barely care as long as you are there facing the other way so we are defended in all degrees and my left ear is pressing down as if listening for hoofbeats on the ground.
and they flew from right to left like a text written in Hebrew almost touching the slightly ruffled water as they passed by the dock at the end of the lawn. You know, the dock with the little flight of stairs that disappears into the lake, which made it easier for your parents to go for a swim in the cold water before they both died only months apart, as if Jack followed Mary’s lead. Otherwise, they might be sitting here now in the two chairs by the picture window, maybe holding cups of morning coffee, as all the geese sailed by, heading who knows where so close to the water, each holding its position, the leader pointing the way with its neck extended, as if he were pulling the others along. Not surprisingly, given Collins’ stage of life, there are several poems about mortality in Whale Day. When I mention this, he tells me that age has less to do with their presence than I might have thought. Poetry, he says, regardless of the age of the poets and the era in which they write, is eternally dedicated to boiling life down to the basics. That makes death one of two mainstays bound to be in the spotlight as long as there are poets, pens and paper. “Love and death are the magnetic poles of poetry,” Collins notes. “And there’s that quote from Kafka: ‘The meaning of life is that it ends.’” Naturally, any guest appearance mortality makes in a Billy Collins production is going to happen on the poet’s own terms. In “Cremation,” a poem about deciding whether or where to have one’s ashes scattered, he brings one of his favorite comedians on stage to weigh in:
PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL
Billy Collins, who has been described as the most popular poet in the country, is known for finding humor in everyday situations. But, without ever getting overly sentimental, heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just as adept at evoking some combination of goosebumps, misty eyes and ragged sighs with his writing.
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Because the pandemic has curtailed his travel, Collins invites fans daily into his comfortably cluttered den for poetry readings and discussions over Facebook.
PHOTOS BY RAFAEL TONGOL
Now, I’m not sure how you heard it, but in my version, Bob Hope’s wife asked her husband on his deathbed whether he wanted to be buried or cremated. “Surprise me,” replied the comic before expiring. Other poems about mortality, however, don’t have such overt punchlines. In “Life Expectancy,” Collins reflects on the fact that he can no longer be assured of outliving the animals he observes, while in “Me First” he suggests that the older partner in a relationship, meaning himself, ought to be the first to die. Similar themes are explored in the poignant “On the Deaths of Friends” and the surreal “My Funeral,” in which Collins imagines a traditional memorial service followed by a celebration with musical accompaniment provided by an assortment of wild animals.
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Collins, obviously, is far too wry to get morose, even about final farewells. And he’s too much of a New Yorker to get overly sentimental — although some of these poems will surely evoke some combination of goosebumps, misty eyes and ragged sighs. Emotional heartstrings may also be tugged when Collins waxes nostalgic in “My Father’s Office, John Street, New York City, 1953,” which turns remembrances of childhood visits to a lower Manhattan high-rise into an elegy for the vintage trappings of insurance-sales outposts such as fountain pens, rotary phones, paperweights and stacks of documents. Collins’ poems often start with such seemingly random observations but end with a gut punch — a trademark of his work. After lamenting the now-obsolete ephemera of this unremarkable Eisenhower-era business office, he concludes by noting, “And gone the
men themselves and gone my father / gone my father as well.” Despite the pandemic’s restrictions, Collins is as industrious as ever. He writes nearly every day; as he says in an introductory poem in Whale Day, “…the function of poetry is to remind me / that there is much more to life / than what I am usually doing / when I am not reading or writing poetry.” “The Function of Poetry” reminded me of a famous statement once made by Robert Frost: “My goal in living is to unite my avocation and my vocation, as two eyes make one in sight.” Collins also makes multiple online appearances at poetry seminars and readings. In addition, he conducts The Poetry Broadcast, his own late-afternoon production five days a week that is accessible through his Facebook page. It’s a format ideally suited to his witty and casual conversational style. The sessions are introduced with vintage jazz classics from his extensive collection. They’re followed by 30-minute readings and lively discussions of his own works and the poems of other classical and contemporary authors. According to a recent profile of Collins in The Wall Street Journal, nearly 50,000 fans from around the world have tuned into the broadcast. Real-time comments have been noted from across the U.S. as well as from Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Copenhagen, Italy and Nigeria. In one of his Whale Day poems, Collins describes Winter Park as “the quiet cardigan harbor of my life.” With all due respect to the esteemed poet laureate, I’m not sure “quiet” is the word I’d use.
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Rita Bornstein notes that she came to the presidency of Rollins College facing special challenges in gaining respect and legitimacy from the faculty, the trustees and the community. By the end of her 14-year tenure, Bornstein writes, “I had faced some difficult moments — but overall, I loved the job and achieved my goals.” Bornstein is shown here in her official college portrait, painted in 1993 by Everett Raymond Kinstler.
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Editor’s Note: Rita Bornstein, president of Rollins College from 1990 to 2004, is known is known today as a prodigious fundraiser and the president who elevated the institution into the upper tier of liberal arts colleges. Although her professional accomplishments are well known, Bornstein has written little about her personal life and the forces that shaped her into one of the most significant leaders in the college’s history and, after retirement, into a civic dynamo and community icon. Now, she has provided this fascinating look at her background and career, which we are pleased to present in Winter Park Magazine.
UNDAUNTED S O, H O W D I D A S H Y L I T T L E G I R L F R O M A B R O K E N F A M I LY B E C O M E A C O L L E G E P R E S I D E N T ? H E R E ’ S M Y U N T O L D S T O R Y. B Y R I TA B O R N S T E I N President Emerita and Cornell Professor of Leadership and Philanthropy, Rollins College
y inauguration as president of Rollins College, in April 1991, was rich with pomp, history, symbolism and ritual. Such events are important because they build a sense of continuity, belonging and pride at a time of uncertainly. I was fortunate to have on the stage with me three living past presidents — Hugh F. McKean, Jack Critchfield and Thaddeus Seymour — who together placed the college’s medallion around my neck. In addition, Tad Foote, president of the University of Miami — my longtime mentor and previous employer — had made the trip to be with me. When the celebration of the college’s history and the investiture of the new president concluded, my mother asked me privately, “How did such a shy little girl grow up to be a college president?” I was astonished myself. I didn’t come to the Rollins presidency with the preferred bona fides. I hadn’t been an academic vice president, dean or tenured faculty member. I had been the vice president for development at the University of Miami, and came with a complicated series of life and career experiences. As a nontraditional president — Jewish, a woman and a fundraiser — I faced special challenges in gaining respect and legitimacy from the faculty, the trustees and the community. Without such acceptance, my efforts would be fruitless. Interestingly, many of the presidents who preceded me also had nontraditional backgrounds, including a minister, a newspaperman, an artist, a corporate executive and a student affairs officer. Fourteen years later, when I retired, I was satisfied that, building on the work of our predecessors and through the efforts of colleagues and supporters, Rollins was far stronger in quality, prestige and financial health. I had faced some difficult moments — but overall, I loved the job and achieved my goals. This brief history is an attempt to disentangle the major threads of my life and identify the experiences, values and qualities that contributed to any success I had. My mother and I were asking the same question: How did I become the person I was now? W INTE R 2 0 2 1 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
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Bornstein and her younger brother Arnold near their home in Queens. Writes Bornstein: “[My brother and I] both craved affection from our father and pleasure or joy from our mother. Because their pain created tension in the apartment, as a young girl I became something of a surrogate mother to Arnie.”
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MAK IN G M Y WAY
My parents were from immigrant families. My mother, at 10 years of age, fled with her parents from the oppressive and anti-Semitic regime in Russia. The family spent three years in Harbin, China, a haven for disaffected Russians. My maternal grandfather had been the only Jewish Singer sewing machine salesman in Moscow and a tradesman in China. But when his family arrived at their long-awaited home in New York, he had to depend on relatives for employment. One of the most enjoyable things that my grandmother, mother and I did was to sit together in the kitchen, me often perched on the table, and sing Russian folk songs. I still remember several of those songs and, if persuaded, can sing them to this day. My grandparents spoke only Russian and Yiddish but my mother, determined to fit in, learned to speak perfect, unaccented English. This was quite an accomplishment at a time when immigrants didn’t have easy access to special language programs. My mother completed high school in New York, but girls at that time weren’t encouraged to prepare for a profession. She was resentful and unhappy about this all her life. My father’s parents, immigrants from Austria, owned a grocery store on the east side of Manhattan within walking distance of their apartment. They took my father out of high school to work in the store and help earn the money needed to put his three younger brothers through college. This he did without complaint. But after he was married, his work hours kept him away from our family most of the time. I remember him leaving before sunrise and usually not returning until after dark. Years later, my father earned his GED and went on to secure a college degree. He never boasted about these accomplishments. Despite the limits placed on her by her parents and society, my mother had extraordinary drive and ambition. She read widely, wrote poetry, watched only educational television and aspired to high culture. She always believed that the more expensive something was, the better its quality must be. I learned from cousins that my mother was greatly admired in the family for her style and her sophisticated clothes. My brother and I were always dressed well for school. And, not surprisingly, our pediatrician was the famous Dr. Benjamin Spock. With both parents stymied in their potential and ambition, the atmosphere at home was bleak and sad. My father was a model of sacrifice, stoicism and hard work. Although he was well-liked and generous, he was not expressive or affectionate. My mother, on the other hand, was hungry for affection. They were not well matched. On reflection, our home life seems very fragile. I’m not certain what fragility meant to me in that context, but I was often on guard. Once, in the early evening, my mother was resting in her bedroom with the lights off due to one of her headaches. No one else was home, and although I was doing homework, I kept an eye on the bedroom. When she got up and went to the window, I ran in to help because I was certain that she intended to throw herself out. She assured me that she wasn’t about to commit suicide but simply needed more air. I felt silly and she laughed it off. We never again spoke of it. My younger brother Arnold and I both craved affection from our father and pleasure or joy from our mother. Because their pain created tension in the apartment, as a young girl I became something of a surrogate mother to Arnie.
We talked, sang songs, made up stories and played school. I was the stereotypical bossy teacher. These activities made us both feel better and provided distraction. My capacity for empathy evolved as I saw the challenges faced by each of the people I loved. Once, when I was about 12 and Arnie about 8, he came upstairs from the street crying, with blood streaming down his face. He told me that a boy had thrown a broken bottle at him. Mother wasn’t home, so I took him into the bathroom and cleaned him up. Then I walked him the 10 blocks or so to the doctor’s office, where he got two stitches in his cheek. I felt like a superhero — but that glow was extinguished when we got home. Mother was there, and Arnie covered his face, afraid of what she might say. Fortunately, she hadn’t yet gone into the bathroom, which was scattered with bloody towels. I was shocked a few years ago when Arnie gave me a box of letters that I had written him over the years. My desire to be a teacher was evident. In every letter, whether it went to his university or later to Vietnam, I offered advice — that he had not asked for — about how to live, what to read and what to think. To her credit, my mother found the funds to ensure that I broadened my perspective by studying piano and dance. As with everything, she sought the best to provide my training.
As a nontraditional president — Jewish, a woman and a fundraiser — I faced special challenges in gaining respect and legitimacy from the faculty, trustees and community. Without such acceptance, my efforts would be fruitless. I had the privilege of studying modern dance with legends Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham. I remember the excitement of doing floor exercises while sitting across from Ms. Graham as she repeatedly instructed us to start the movement from the pelvis: “All emotion begins in the pelvis!” My mother also found Buck’s Rock Camp, where we would spend our summers. This camp had a profound effect on my emotional and intellectual development. Campers were expected to make their own decisions about daily activities, and we worked in the gardens to harvest vegetables and fruits for meals. We also washed and fed farm animals — although we didn’t eat them — and campers were encouraged to express themselves through arts activities. We made bowls out of blocks of wood and sang folk songs. I choreographed and danced in a challenging play — T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men — and danced to the words of “Poets to Come” from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Most important, I interacted with young people and adults who were more diverse, creative and progressive than my family and friends. My mother’s parents were modestly involved in Jewish life, but my parents weren’t involved at all. However, in her usual way, my mother identified two extraordinary nontraditional institutions to offer us religious and intellectual education: One was the socially conscious Stephen Wise Free Synagogue and the other was the New York Society of Ethical Culture, which promoted secular humanism. W INTE R 2 0 2 1 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
I was about 14 years old when one of my father’s brothers helped him start a fluorescent lighting business. The additional income generated by the store allowed us to move from Manhattan to Queens and attend better schools — a move my mother thought would be good for us. It was not.
ACT S O F R EB E LLI ON
As a student in the city, I had been promoted one grade ahead for my age and so was out of sync with my new classmates. I found them cliquish and snobbish, and I just didn’t fit in. My act of rebellion was to befriend another disaffected student, with whom I made weekly visits to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. There we made friends with other disaffected souls who enjoyed singing folk songs and strumming guitars and banjos. The next few years were tumultuous for me. The University of Chicago accepted me as a student, but I had no idea of the extraordinary reputation and prestige of the institution. I didn’t know anyone at the school or in the city, and my boyfriend had just dumped me. I was unhappy, and after just three months left school and returned to New York. Like many teenagers, I didn’t consider the consequences of this impulsive decision. Years passed before I went back to college and came to realize what I had given up in Chicago. When I returned to New York, my mother agreed to let me stay with her. She had her own troubles, however, having finally left her difficult marriage. After a short time, I realized that neither she nor I was comfortable with this arrangement. Acting again on impulse, I packed a suitcase, took my guitar and boarded a bus for Los Angeles. I knew no one there but had the phone number of a friend of a friend. And so, a new chapter in my life began as the result of a trip that was really brave or really stupid — or perhaps some of each. My rebellious high school years, my abandonment of a unique opportunity in Chicago and my spontaneous journey to the West Coast seem to belie my characterization of myself as being shy and lacking in confidence. But the willingness to take risks helped me gain confidence as I matured — and I may have saved myself by disconnecting from my dysfunctional family. In Los Angeles, where once again I was alone in an unknown city, I worked at a series of low-level jobs that didn’t challenge my interests or abilities: waitress, receptionist, dental assistant and on an automobile assembly line. I wrote a few lines expressing the way I felt about the factory: “A streak of gold for a moment, Radiant glance of the sun. Here where it is dirty and cold and mechanized. Beauty in dark places.” I also found my way to one of the premier dance studios in the country: the Lester Horton Dance Theater in Los Angeles, one of the first permanent theaters dedicated to modern dance in the U.S. Horton, who died in 1953 and whose former students included Alvin Ailey, had developed his own style of modern dance; I found it comfortable since it was similar to Graham’s approach to movement. On occasion, we had the opportunity to choreograph and perform before audiences. Amazingly, I still have a letter that I received more than 40 years ago following one of those performances. It’s from a woman named Donna Cilurzo, whom I don’t remember. It reads: “You were just magnificent and, especially in The Gypsy Nun, which in my mind was the high point of the evening. Not only was your work technically beautiful, but even more important, your inner fire and depth of characterization really came across.” Despite accolades such as this, I knew I was merely a good dancer but not a great one. However, many years of dancing and choreographing had
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Acting again on impulse, I packed a suitcase, took my guitar and boarded a bus for Los Angeles. I knew no one there but had the phone number of a friend of a friend. And so, a new chapter in my life began as the result of a trip that was really brave or really stupid — or perhaps some of each. helped me become disciplined, strong and confident. I found myself married, far too young, and became a mother when I was just 20. I think it’s fair to say that Rachel, my daughter from that marriage, and I grew up together — and it wasn’t always easy. After several years in Los Angeles, I realized that this wasn’t the life I wanted. I was frustrated in ways that I couldn’t have articulated at the time. I realize now that I was yearning for more. I wanted more education. I wanted to make an impact. I wanted to find my voice. I divorced and moved with Rachel to Miami, where my mother now lived. Although my relationship with her was tense, she served as an anchor of sorts. I continued to work in a series of low-level jobs as Rachel and I settled in. I was determined to navigate back to school, although, as a single parent, the path wasn’t an easy one. Eventually I remarried, and soon after my son, Mark, was born. I started taking college classes at Florida Atlantic University. I would continue my education for 15 years — until 1975, when I earned a Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Miami. While my children grew up somewhat resentful of my commitment to school and later to work, they were proud of me. I must admit that it was a real challenge to find a balance between my school and home life. In 2016, I was gratified when Rachel wrote in a letter to me that “you had more determination and grit than anyone.” I was a highly motivated student, excited by my classes. I was elected president of an organization called Women’s Organization for the March on Education Now! (WOMEN!), which was founded to press college authorities to be more responsive to the needs of older women returning to school. This was my first foray into gender politics. I juggled the demands of school with the challenges of raising children, and often felt guilty about the choices I made. However, I’ve always been grateful that I was able to develop my capacity for intellectual growth and professional success. Having loved language and literature all my life, I majored in English literature and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from FAU. My master’s thesis was titled Revolutionary Black Poetry 1960-1970 and my doctoral dissertation was about an innovative attempt to radically improve public education. It was a topic in which I would soon have real-world experience.
RE FORMING E DUCAT ION
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many books were published extremely critical of the “factory model” of public schools that engendered “obedience, passivity, and alienation” among students. As a result of this widespread critique, many educators began rethinking education with a goal of encouraging creativity, flexibility and responsibility. Dr. Kenneth Jenkins was the principal of North Miami Beach Senior High School, a brand-new school set to open in 1971. He invited me to
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Throughout her life, Bornstein loved dance of all kinds — especially modern dance — and even trained for a time at a prestigious Los Angeles studio. Her skills proved useful when she took the helm at Rollins. “Faculty complained that the college lacked a collegial and intellectual climate,” Bornstein writes. “I believe that these are worthy goals, but that they are the responsibility of the faculty. However, I felt that I should do my part and launched an annual square dance.” Her partner in the photo below is her husband, Harland G. Bloland.
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join a new committee charged with the design of an innovative model for secondary school education. I was thrilled, but apprehensive. I was still working on my master’s degree, and my only classroom experience was as a student teacher under the supervision of an experienced professional. Still, I couldn’t say no. Later, Dr. Jenkins invited me to serve as team leader of one of four planned “little schools” within the larger school, which had 3,600 students. I would be chief of “Little School C,” with 950 students, 25 interdisciplinary teachers, the football coach and three counselors. Our goal was to upend the traditional education system by enhancing personalization and encouraging self-directed learning with no traditional letter grades. The school was dubbed “experimental” in the media. Anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson points out that many women, when they secure positions for which they don’t feel adequately prepared, suffer from “impostor syndrome” — fear of being exposed as a fraud. That was me. Although the project was widely heralded when it began, problems emerged within a few months. Most students adapted to the new atmosphere and learned to accept increased responsibility for their own education. However, a substantial number abused their new-found freedom by spending their time at a nearby shopping center and the beaches, or by sitting around the school grounds playing guitars. To complicate the situation further, the planning committee had been so preoccupied trying to fulfill our charge that we didn’t prepare for — or even discuss — the impact of Black students being bused to the school for the first time. Our young, liberal teachers wanted Black students to feel welcome. As a result, they were lax regarding academics. But low expectations usually lead to poor performance. That’s what’s meant by the phrase “the bigotry of low expectations.” It was a painful lesson to learn. By the end of the first year, the flexible schedule had been replaced by traditional 50-minute periods, and letter grades were instituted. By June 1974, Dr. Jenkins had resigned under pressure, the original staff had dispersed and most of the innovations had been curtailed or eliminated. Most similar change initiatives around the country also failed as a “back to basics” mindset emerged in public education. I was named chair of Little School C’s English department and supervised a return to traditional systemwide rules and expectations. This experience was instrumental in my leaving public schools. When the innovative program was dismantled without input from, or discussion with, the new program’s designers and participants, I lost confidence in the system’s ability and willingness to change. I had been working on a Ph.D. in educational leadership at the University of Miami, and in 1975 analyzed the colossal failure of our program in a 450-page dissertation titled An Historical Analysis of the Dynamics of Innovation in an Urban High School. I examined the strengths and weaknesses of our approach and the obstacles to, and tools for, promoting and leading change. I investigated the tendency of change agents to expect their innovative new designs to be applied uniformly. One of the recommendations I made was summed up this way: “Missionary zeal must give way to a realistic appraisal of the differing needs and attitudes of students, teachers and parents, and these must be accommodated. Failure to provide options may foredoom an innovative project.” Writing that dissertation helped me overcome my disappointment and grief, but the potential of innovation and change continued to influence my career choices. Reviewing my job history, I realize how much support I received from a
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series of mentors who, like Dr. Jenkins, took an interest in my career, opened doors for me and encouraged me to accept responsibilities for which I felt unprepared. They saw leadership qualities in me that I did not recognize myself.
EQUALIT Y A ND FUNDRAIS I N G My next professional experience, through the University of Miami, was no less daunting. For four years, 1975 to 1979, I was field director for the School Desegregation Consulting Center, funded by the U.S. Office of Education, with responsibility for Florida and Georgia. This was important work, but I had been particularly interested in Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibited schools from discriminating on the basis of sex. In 1975, I had submitted a proposal through the university to get federal funding for a regional assistance center to aid schools in Title IX implementation. My proposal was denied, and I was devastated. I later wrote a much stronger proposal, which was funded, and in 1979 became director of the Southeast Sex Desegregation Assistance Center. I also wrote a proposal for a second federal grant that would enable me to designate a specific school and position it as a model of sex equity. This project, which involved a grade school in Broward County, was also funded. As part of my work as director, I traveled frequently to schools and colleges throughout my region. Wherever I went, I explained the new federally mandated regulations regarding Title IX. Audiences were generally hostile to my message. Facing groups of angry parents, administrators and coaches upset me at first — but I learned to listen and to be sensitive to the discomfort being expressed. All leaders must learn to do this. In the years since, Title IX has made an incalculable positive change in schools and society. Sports programs have been transformed, and many girls and women have been attracted into professions formerly considered off-limits. It’s worth noting that the first school transformation with which I was involved — North Miami Beach Senior High School — collapsed under the weight of a large traditional system. In contrast, the effort to equalize opportunities for women and men was nationwide and had the force of law behind it. My next job evolved naturally from my work as an advocate for Title IX and champion of opportunities for women. I heard that the male-dominated field of development (or fundraising or advancement) was just opening to women, so I requested a meeting with the vice president for development at the University of Miami. Within a few weeks, he offered me the position of director of the university’s Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations, which meant a cut in pay and status. Why did I consider such a drastic move? For years, I had been working on federally funded grants and contracts at the university. However, the national political scene was changing, and I held out little hope that such federal programs would continue. I regularly taught courses in education, but knew that the university had a firm rule about not hiring graduates into tenure-track professorships. Having severed my ties with the public-school system, my options were limited. It was only later that I understood the power of fundraising to improve an institution’s profile and status. The job I took was at the bottom of the development career ladder. However, a year later, President Tad Foote, having worked with me on several important fundraising projects, saw to it that I was promoted to associate vice president for development. President Foote had persuaded the board of trustees to conduct an ambitious “Campaign for Miami” to raise $400 million. That, and a concurrent $400 mil-
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lion campaign at Columbia University, were at that time the largest fundraising efforts that had ever been conducted in American higher education. With presidential leadership and vision — and the hard work of consultants, staff and volunteers — we created an army of advocates for the university. At a black-tie event celebrating the successful conclusion of the campaign, it was announced that we had raised a grand total of $517.5 million over a seven-year period. We were all ecstatic. Several years into the campaign, the president of Brandeis University offered me the position of vice president. I wasn’t trying to improve my status or salary at UM when I told President Foote about this opportunity. So I was surprised when he quickly consulted with the trustees, reorganized the administration and offered me the vice presidency. As vice president, I was fortunate to sit in on trustee meetings and became conversant about higher education issues and politics. I came into the field of development as a novice, and over the years became interested in the traditions of fundraising in America. The Campaign for Miami represented an effort to strengthen the image and resource base of an institution known as a “cardboard college” because of its slapdash architecture and construction. It was another early Florida institution of higher education with a weak reputation and scant resources. The funds generated by the campaign, along with strong presidential leadership, helped thrust the university into national prominence. (Others might attribute this to the success of the football program.)
F R O M A H UR R I CAN E TO A TAR In 1990, banker Charlie Rice, a Rollins trustee who served on the Presidential Search Committee, invited me to apply for the top job. He knew me well, because he was also a trustee of the University of Miami. Were it not for him, I wouldn’t have surfaced as a likely candidate. In fact, I wouldn’t even have applied. This is another example of how important mentors can be. Once my name was in the mix, Charlie advised me that my candidacy was in my own hands. I took that seriously. Developer Allan Keen, a Rollins graduate and board member, chaired the search committee. I was appreciative of the fact that he kept in regular contact with me during the long and arduous process. As I wrote in a journal, which I continued to keep throughout my presidency, the search involved “activities [that] were strenuous and challenging, called on everything I am and know, have read, have felt, have thought, and I was at my very best and better than I could have imagined….” I did my research before I met with the committee and various constituents. I knew that since its founding by the Congregational Church in 1885, Rollins had been challenged by extremes of weather and vicissitudes of the economy. It had been in danger of closing its doors several times during its history. I had also become aware that Rollins was known around the state as “Jolly Rolly Colly,” noted for “fun in the sun.” This distressed me. I told the trustees and the faculty that I would need them to work alongside me to build a college known for academic excellence. All the while, my confidence grew that I could make a difference. I also began to feel a real affinity for the Rollins faculty. They were devoted to their students and talked about teaching as an art and a calling. The faculty’s commitment to innovation and internationalism was encouraging to me; both were important legacies of the legendary Hamilton Holt, the college’s eighth president. After three visits, the trustees voted to offer me the position, and I returned to Miami with great excitement and anticipation. Imagine my surprise when, in reviewing the college’s charter, I found that the president “shall be a practicing Evangelical Christian.”
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Bornstein’s early family life was at times troubled — but she became increasingly close to her mother, Florence. In fact, her mother posed a question following the inaugural ceremonies at Rollins that prompted the newly installed president to examine the forces that had shaped her life and career. Writes Bornstein: “When the celebration of the college’s history and the investiture of the new president concluded, my mother asked me privately, ‘How did such a shy little girl grow up to be a college president?’”
In a panic, I called the college’s attorney and told him that I couldn’t take the position. He advised me to disregard that language because it was obsolete and not binding. I was reassured — but asked him to put it in writing, which he did. As I prepared for the next phase of my life and work, knowing that much would be expected of me, I was buoyed by a comment made by Ernest Boyer, esteemed president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Boyer said that I had not only administrative skill, but also the “quality of human spirit” that would make me a “great” leader. My brother Arnold was also pleased but found a less classy way to support my new position. He came to visit wearing a T-shirt that read: “My sister is President of Rollins College.” What fun! My predecessor at Rollins was Thaddeus Seymour, who had retired after 12 years at Rollins and a previous presidency at Wabash College in Indiana. He was well regarded by everyone and welcomed me and my husband, Harland G. Bloland, professor of higher education at the University of Miami, warmly. As soon as I was elected, Thad put up a sign saying, “Welcome Rita” and rang the bell at Knowles Memorial Chapel to announce my appointment. Soon after we arrived, he and his wife, Polly, hosted a party for us to meet members of the community. He insisted that I sit beside him and be introduced at commencement.
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Three former presidents attended Bornstein’s inauguration, including (left to right) Hugh McKean, Jack Critchfield and Thaddeus Seymour, her immediate predecessor. “Thad was a model for a departing president’s responsibility to ensure a smooth transition,” Bornstein writes. “His behavior elicited a reciprocal feeling in me.”
Thad was a model for a departing president’s responsibility to ensure a smooth transition. His behavior elicited a reciprocal feeling in me. I prepared for my formal inauguration as 13th president of the college by writing an address for the occasion that presented my vision for Rollins and defined my presidency. My goal was to have Rollins recognized as one of America’s best internationally focused and community-involved colleges, with acclaimed liberal arts and business programs. To achieve this status, we would need to significantly improve the college’s quality, reputation and resources. I also wanted to recognize and build on the unique and innovative history of the college, which included Holt’s Conference Plan, designed to engage students in active discourse rather than the passive acquisition of knowledge delivered by lecture. That same storied history included a 1931 conference, Curriculum for the College of Liberal Arts, chaired by educational philosopher John Dewey. Attendees explored the possibilities of applying classroom learning to social problems and internationalization of the curriculum, faculty and student body. In my address, delivered on April 13, 1991, before an audience of about 1,500 people, I proposed an underlying principle (or motto) that would guide us throughout my term: “Excellence, Innovation, and Community.” Now I was ready to answer my mother’s question. That shy child we both remembered was gradually transformed into a college president through the experiences of her life and the encouragement and support of many people throughout the years.
SKE P T IC S A ND S CHALLEN GES I received a great deal of enthusiastic support as president — although I wasn’t immune to the many insults and negative comments that began as soon as I started on the job. I was shocked when I learned that a prominent alumnus had cautioned publicly, “This college is not ready for a Jewish woman president.” Another alumnus, whose home I visited in North Florida, told me that he doubted whether I would ever be accepted in Winter Park. There was even an anonymous letter to each trustee asserting that my financial vice president and I were destroying the college. I had the pleasure
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of watching attorney Harold Ward, one of the most prominent trustees, tear the letter to pieces in front of me. I was pleased to learn that I would work with community leader Betty Duda, the first woman to chair the trustees. She was very welcoming, but asked if I thought that locals would be concerned that two women now oversaw the college. It was a concern that we dismissed. Overall, though, I was pleased to find that friends of the college shared my goals of building an institution of excellence and securing the resources necessary to assure current and future students a world-class education. In the meantime, I became aware of two national trends that would unquestionably impede our ambitious plans. I reviewed these trends in my 2003 book, Legitimacy in the Academic Presidency: From Entrance to Exit. The book, by the way, received enthusiastic reviews by several well-known presidents and scholars, and has become required reading in a number of higher education graduate programs. Frank Rhodes, former president of Cornell University, wrote: “Bornstein’s highly textured book deserves to be widely read by those concerned with the leadership and well-being of American higher education.” The first trend I discussed was a serious financial recession in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which prompted predictions of the most challenging era for higher education since the Great Depression. The so-called “Age of Scarcity” did indeed see escalating costs, a steep decline in college-age young people, cutbacks in federal and state support, and intense competition for students and philanthropy. The future looked especially dire for underresourced institutions. The other trend was the vigorous and unrelenting attacks on higher education by academics, journalists and legislators on the basis of some well-publicized abuses and misconduct — including rule violations in bigtime athletics, misuse of government-sponsored university research dollars and high levels of student loan defaults. Fortunately, by the mid-1990s economic conditions had improved dramatically, creating an extraordinary opportunity for growth and rebuilding. Institutions like Rollins that had focused on strategic and campaign planning were ready to move ahead. I noted in my journal that “the job takes a huge amount of energy, motivation, and commitment. ...it is just plain hard work and I can see why a president would wear out eventually…No one who hasn’t been in it can truly appreciate the challenge. No vice president is close enough to understand it, or any trustee, or any consultant, or even a spouse.” The presidency is characterized by continuing demands of all sorts, including unexpected events and occurrences that require quick but judicious decisions. All hell can break loose in a totally unexpected way in a totally unexpected moment. A good example of the array of surprises that I experienced was a letter that arrived from Okinawa, Japan, requesting that the college return a statue given to President Holt by a graduate following World War II. This request came at a time when there were many disputes between nations, universities and museums over ownership of art and artifacts. Despite considerable pressure from the Orlando Sentinel and the New York Times, the college’s trustees declined to return the statue. However, I continued to explore the issue and discuss it with student, faculty, community and higher education leaders. It was a graduate of Rollins, who was then serving as an ambassador to Japan, who persuaded me that returning the statue was the right thing to do and would enhance relations between our countries. We received an almost exact replica in return. In addition, Harland and
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ew York Yankees’ great Yogi Berra was right. But there are some basic principles that can help us get through it all. Between the elections and the pandemic, we’ve had to face so much this year — and many of us find ourselves on information overload. Good news is hard to come by as well — but things will change. What we’ll tackle in this article and following discussions is your money — something everyone needs and worries about! Our hope is to limit the stress and worry associated with the unknown, while providing constructive and clear ideas about what you can do to help you and your family thrive financially. Here are some examples of upcoming discussions: What are some financial strategies for you to consider? What is your financial outlook for 2021? How can you protect but still grow your money to reach your financial goals? Are there specific areas of investing designed to withstand crazy market cycles? What are some basic tactics to get out of debt and turn around your current financial challenges?
Remember, knowledge is power — and proper planning is critical. Most people don’t plan to fail, but they fail to plan. Don’t be one of those people. Let’s start with something that might seem basic, but is a detail very few people fully understand when selecting someone to work with their money. The phrase most often used is financial advisor. Not all financial advisors are the same. There’s a major difference between a financial advisor and a financial planner. n Financial advisors will do their best. But they aren’t bound by standards or educational requirements that a financial planner is required to have. This means you could get someone with only very limited experience as a financial advisor, and ultimately be unhappy with the results. n Financial planners, on the other hand, are required to have several additional licenses as well as educational requirements. That means by the time you start to work with them, they’ve had years of time dedicated to training and understanding the financial world.
One of the most critical qualifications most financial planners hold is being a fiduciary. Fiduciaries are legally bound to put their clients’ best interests ahead of their own — and that’s critical when its your money. While the market sometimes seems volatile or uncertain, it’s a good idea to rely on the expertise of a financial advisor who’ll be working in your best interest. It’s no coincidence that all major news outlets have reported that now is the time to turn to an expert in the field. In your search, it’s appropriate to ask questions of those you are considering: n Are they an advisor or planner? n How long have they been in this business? n How much do they have under management? By asking these questions, you’ll have a level of comfort on how your money will be managed. With these basic starting tools, you’ll begin your financial journey with a level of confidence that you’re going in the right direction. In the next issue, we’ll discuss more specific areas you should always consider before investing.
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I were invited to Japan, where we established a relationship with the school that housed the artifact. As a result, Rollins faculty continue to teach and learn in Japan. I published an article on the experience in The Chronicle of Higher Education — and Rollins set an example of ethical decision-making. Not everything about the presidency was so serious. On a lighter note, there never came a time when the way I dressed, wore my hair and selected jewelry wasn’t a topic of discussion. Indeed, fascination with the appearance and attire of female executives continues today. After I retired, a woman from the community commented that I was very “starchy” during my presidency. My friend, former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin, says that I was always “the president” and not the relaxed, funny person that I turned out to be after I stepped down. Some faculty members felt that I was too “corporate” for Rollins, where women professors, according to my husband, were 1960s manqué in their “dirndl skirts and sandals.” That some saw me as corporate was the result of my being a captive of the then-popular “dress for success” look for women — a man-tailored blue (white stripe optional) business suit with a white blouse and a blue or red tie at the neck. While I was experienced and outwardly confident, I didn’t entirely avoid imposter syndrome. Could I really do the job? Could an infusion of resources and clarity of vision assure the college’s growth in prestige and influence? Could a president successfully install a commitment to excellence throughout an institution? I felt empowered when Joanne Rogers began calling me “Prexy.” Joanne and her husband, Fred, were both Rollins graduates and remained close to the college. Fred became internationally famous as Mister Rogers and creator of the PBS children’s program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I enjoyed being called “Prexy” because that was the affectionate title students had given to Hamilton Holt. Being compared with Holt was a great honor, since he brought national attention to the college as an educational innovator and champion of world peace. It was a treat to go out to dinner with Fred and Joanne during their annual sojourn in Florida. Fred tried to be inconspicuous, but was such an icon that everybody recognized him and approached him as they would have a close friend. He was always genial about the attention.
TA K ING C OM M AN D It’s hard for presidents to get honest feedback about their performance from administrative colleagues. So once a year during my first few years, I assembled the professors who had served on the search committee that hired me to ask them how I was doing and what suggestions they had about how I might improve. Some of these professors were interviewed for the Summer 2004 issue of the Rollins Alumni Record and were quoted in a series of articles on my retirement. I could barely believe their kind comments. Larry Eng-Wilmot, professor of chemistry, said “her Rollins legacy … is a marvelous set of visionary and indelible fingerprints that will always lead and encourage us to be better learners, teachers, scholars, citizens and people.” Jim Small, a biology professor, added that bringing me to Rollins “is one of the most important highlights of my career here.” In 1994, I received my first and only evaluation by the trustees. The chairman, banker Mike Strickland, praised my vision and complimented my ability to “take command of any situation.” He said that he appreciated the strategic planning process I led, and praised the expanded composition of the board and my relationship with it. He was pleased with our fundraising,
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I enjoyed being called “Prexy” because that was the affectionate title students had given Hamilton Holt. Being compared with Holt was a great honor, since he brought national attention to the college as an educational innovator and champion of world peace. especially for endowed chairs. From the earliest days of the search process through the initial planning years of my presidency, I constantly considered how to generate enthusiasm for a fundraising campaign at Rollins that would be unprecedented in size and scope. My focus was to start by building a culture of excellence. I wanted every area to participate in this effort — operations, facilities, teaching, research, student life, administration, philanthropy, governance and even landscaping. Yes, landscaping. I had learned that attractive landscaping produces curb appeal and communicates a commitment to excellence in all other aspects of an institution. Architecture plays a similar role in defining a campus. So I spent time with architects and carefully reviewed their plans and drawings. I also sought advice from Jack Lane, a professor of history and the college’s historian, who advised us on traditional styles and the original purpose of facilities. I enjoyed the process and, as a result, was able to redirect projects that had been poorly designed for the needs of the college. We also scoured the budget for places where we could save money. Rollins had a pair of night programs: The Hamilton Holt School, which was highly esteemed by our community, and a campus on the Space Coast in Brevard County. Professors were immensely proud of the Hamilton Holt School — which offered evening degrees to nontraditional students — and many taught there. I was especially drawn to Holt students because they, as I had, usually juggled the demands of college with raising children and working. However, the Brevard campus was more difficult to justify. Its distance made it hard to manage and the revenue wasn’t commensurate with the costs. Consequently, I had the sad responsibility of closing that program. The college also had a variety of graduate degree programs, the most highly acclaimed of which was the Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business. I found the professors hardworking, highly intelligent and loyal to Rollins. I had many friends among the Crummer faculty, and was honored that many of them dedicated their books to me. My attachment to the overall faculty grew as I got to know the professors as individuals. Yes, some were quirky, and some were hostile to those whom they viewed as bureaucrats. But from the time I started, even usually uninvolved faculty agreed to participate in strategic planning. After all, they’d been asking the same questions as I had. How do we improve Rollins’ reputation? How do we generate more resources? I relied especially on three people I had brought into my administration. First there was Lorrie Kyle, a Rollins graduate who held a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt, who was my brilliant and accomplished executive assistant. There was also George Herbst, one of the few financial vice presidents able to build good relationships with faculty; and Charlie Edmondson, a longtime history professor who made an excellent provost and academic vice president. Driven by a commitment to high standards, Charlie went on
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Bornstein became close to Fred and Joanne Rogers, both Rollins graduates who frequently visited Winter Park. Fred (above), known to the world as “Mister Rogers,” tried to be inconspicuous “but was such an icon that everybody recognized him and approached him as they would have a close friend,” writes Bornstein. “He was always genial about the attention.” In 2012, President Barack Obama (below) became the fourth U.S. President to visit the campus, following in the footsteps of Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Bornstein, who had stepped down in 2004, attended and met Obama, who spoke at the Harold & Ted Alfond Sports Center.
to become president of Alfred University in New York. To improve the college’s academic standing, we focused first on attracting a stronger group of students. This allowed us to be more selective in admissions. We also recognized that institutional prestige was, in part, based on the quality of the professors and emphasized the importance of endowed chairs to our supporters. Every year, I proudly exhibited the publications of faculty members in my office. I thought it was important as well to personally and informally encourage excellence among professors, students and staff. I believe the effort was appreciated. When Jonathan Miller, the college’s director of libraries, left to take a similar position at Williams College, he wrote me a note saying: “I have been at Rollins for almost 11 years now and have really appreciated your support, advice and friendship. [You] … showed more interest in the progress I was making on my dissertation than anyone else and you were always very generous with your advice and counsel to me.” A president can also contribute to an institution’s reputation and visibility by serving as a “public intellectual.” During my presidency, I wrote and published 46 articles and four books with a focus on leadership, governance and fundraising. I was also frequently quoted in national magazines and newspapers, and served on the boards of many higher education associations. During my presidency, I received three honorary doctorates and 26 awards. The high point for Rollins in our quest for quality and recognition was when U.S. News & World Report raised our ranking among Master’s Colleges in the South from sixth to first. I’ll never forget the excitement of a group of alumni, back on campus for a reunion, who came flooding into my office to celebrate. Faculty complained that the college lacked a collegial and intellectual climate. I believe that these are worthy goals, but that they are the responsibility of the faculty. However, I felt that I should do my part and launched an annual square dance. To provide opportunities for intellectual engagement, I convened lunchtime discussions on serious topics and faculty research. An intellectual high point for me and for the college was the 1997 conference that I planned and hosted together with the College Board, a notfor-profit organization formed in 1899 with the goal of expanding access to higher education. The conference, which was titled Toward a Pragmatic Liberal Education: The Curriculum of the Twenty-First Century, was based on the previously mentioned colloquy hosted by President Holt in 1931. Our conference attracted 200 presidents and scholars from 50 colleges and universities. One participant called the experience “a feast for the mind.” Later that year, the College Board produced a book with chapters by conference presenters: Education and Democracy: Re-imagining Liberal Learning in America.
$ 100,000,000? IMP O S S IB LE! During my first year at Rollins, I surprised the trustees by proposing an ambitious “Campaign for Rollins” with the goal of raising $100 million. Because the college had been financially challenged since its founding, there was plenty of skepticism. As evidence, some trustees cited the prior campaign, which concluded five years earlier having raised just over $40 million. However, after much discussion and encouragement, the trustees agreed to the goal. One vivid recollection I have is, halfway through the campaign, seeing a senior staff member standing in my doorway saying, “The campaign is over. We’re out of prospects.” Well, we didn’t run out of prospects and the campaign wasn’t over. When we announced to a gathering of campaign contributors that we
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had exceeded our goal and raised $160.2 million, there was much jubilation, as you can imagine. Better still was the fact that alumni had contributed 52 percent of the total. This fact was especially pleasing to me, because early in the campaign I had been told by a staff member that while graduates loved their alma mater, they would never contribute any money. Forty-nine percent of the funds were designated for the college’s endowment. I had made endowed chairs a high priority, understanding these to be a mark of quality in higher education. We also secured a $10 million gift for an endowed chair for the president — about which I’ll elaborate shortly. We eclipsed the goal because of our skilled and indefatigable staff. Vice President Anne Kerr went on to became president of Florida Southern College and put her considerable skills to work remaking the school in Lakeland. David Collis, assistant vice president of development, became president of the AdventHealth Foundation and has done an exceptional job of attracting support. The campaign enabled us to buy and develop some important nearby properties. We built a commercial center and a parking garage in downtown Winter Park designed to generate revenue, which it has. And we built the beautiful McKean Gateway, the first formal entrance to the college. A visiting architect later said the Gateway looked as though it had stood for a century or more. We also built or renovated more than 30 academic, athletic and residential facilities, including a much-needed President’s House, now called the Barker House. To avoid potential controversy, I purposely didn’t occupy the house during my tenure. (Harland and I had bought a modest residence in 1990, when we moved to Winter Park.) Overall, I was thrilled and relieved that I had done what I promised I would do: build a strong reputation for quality and a healthy financial foundation for future success. I donated funds to name a waterside gazebo for my husband (Harland’s Haven) and a cascading water fountain for me (Rita’s Fountain). Both these gifts gave me great satisfaction. An exciting opportunity arose in 1996, about halfway through my presidency, and made me both pleased and nervous. University of Miami President Tad Foote nominated me for the presidency of the American Council on Education (ACE), a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates for the nation’s colleges and universities. It was a great honor, so I assented to an interview. The search committee was comprised of distinguished academics and presidents. And although I had an excellent interaction with them, I made it clear that I was in a “golden moment” at Rollins and couldn’t leave at that time. Leaving would have been difficult to do in any case. Trustee Charlie Rice sealed my decision when he said that if I left, he would take back his campaign gift, which was at that time more than $1 million. Thus ended my dalliance with the ACE, exciting as it was. One of the factors in the U.S. News & World Report’s evaluation of colleges and universities is the size of the endowment. At Rollins, endowment funds brought in by the campaign, coupled with a large bequest from alumnus and trustee George Cornell, made a huge difference. The college’s endowment, $39 million when I arrived in 1990, grew to more than $200 million by the start of the new century. That was partly the result of our successful campaign, but there was more to it. Here’s the story of George’s gift. Each year, when George returned from vacation up North, he came to talk to me about the same issue. His advisors were constantly urging him to
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A $71 million Lakeside Neighborhood for student housing is nearly complete at Rollins. Its dorms will honor three past presidents: Hugh McKean, Thaddeus Seymour and Rita Bornstein. Said current President Grant Cornwell: “Each of these storied leaders laid the groundwork to make Rollins the great college it is today, and set the stage for those of us who have the honor of stewarding its mission to educate our students for global citizenship and responsible leadership, empowering our graduates to pursue meaningful lives and productive careers.”
establish a foundation. What did I think? I always responded that the decision was entirely up to him. But I also reminded him that when the original philanthropists, their relatives and advisors were gone, foundations often changed direction to follow the interests of the remaining board members. George never set up a foundation. And as a result, Rollins received more than $105 million when he died, shortly after the conclusion of the campaign. If he had formed a foundation, its board would have no doubt dispersed the same funds over a wide array of beneficiaries. One of the first people I told when I decided to retire was George. A man of few words, he said, “We’ll miss you.” In fact, it was George who had made the gift of an endowed chair for the president. He asked the solicitor two questions: “Will this gift keep Rita here?” And, “Will this gift help recruit her successor?” Throughout my presidency, the person who provided me unqualified support was my husband, Harland, who for years had been teaching courses about the operations of higher education, including the president’s role. He loved the idea that now he had an inside view. After a year of traveling from Winter Park to teach at the University of Miami, he retired and produced some of his best scholarship. Harland was well liked by everyone. He was funny, smart and a great conversationalist. People coveted the opportunity to sit next to him at dinner. Harland joined me in explaining to our families, especially the children, why it was important for our behavior, public and private, to be above reproach. It was he who gently reprimanded me one day for jaywalking across Park Avenue, reminding me that everything I did — even seemingly minor
things — reflected on the college. Harland often accompanied me to help handle emergencies on campus. We had lawsuits, student deaths, alcohol poisonings and car accidents. You name it, and we dealt with it. It was all part of the job.
R I TA’S R O L LI NS REN AI SS AN CE I was surprised and delighted by the tributes and gifts I received when I announced my retirement in 2004. Roy Kerr, senior professor of language, began referring to “Rita’s Rollins Renaissance.” At a ceremony in the Knowles Memorial Chapel, Maurice “Socky” O’Sullivan, distinguished professor of English, presented me with a unique book, Teaching in Paradise, that contains articles by Rollins professors about their love for and approach to teaching. The book is dedicated to me, and I treasure it. John Hitt, then president of the nearby University of Central Florida, sent a message that I appreciated. He wrote: “When presidents do their jobs really well, they not only transform the lives of students, they transform the lives of their institutions, and you have done that for Rollins.” The expressions of affection and gratitude from faculty, alumni, students, community leaders and friends around the country made my departure both easier and more difficult. Soon after my announcement, I received a note from Robert Atwell, longtime president of the American Council on Education. He wrote: “…You have been a model of principled leadership at the campus and nationally. I have often cited you as someone new presidents should emulate.” In my book Legitimacy, I examined the challenges of a college presidency for those who lack a traditional academic background. I also discussed presidents who’ve been unsuccessful despite looking great on paper. I identified the threats to legitimacy, such as misconduct, inattentiveness, grandiosity, lack of cultural fit, management incompetence and erosion of social capital. Throughout my presidency, I was vigilant in seeking legitimacy and avoiding the pitfalls I had highlighted. All my experiences, good and bad, had strengthened my capacity for empathy, confidence and resilience. The example of my family — the dogged determination to be and do the best they could — stimulated my development of those values. I’ve had a long time to consider my mother’s question about my evolution from shyness to confidence. Her own ambition and that of her family had a lot to do with it, as did the many mentors who, along the way, helped me define myself. Businessman Frank Barker, chair of the trustees, worked out a designation for my endowed chair that I could use in retirement (Cornell Professor of Leadership and Philanthropy). The trustees also established the Bornstein Award for Faculty Scholarship, which is presented each year at commencement. This award, which comes with a $10,000 stipend, is special to me because it recognizes faculty scholarship and its role in extending Rollins’ reputation. It reflects my values and, for me, is always a commencement highlight. In addition, the trustees established the Rita Bornstein Leadership Forum. And I was mightily surprised and delighted when I learned that a new student residence hall on Lake Virginia was to be named “Rita Bornstein Hall.” To top it all off, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce honored me as “Citizen of the Decade.” When Harland died in November 2004, I invited Hoyt Edge, professor of philosophy, to preside at the celebration of life that we held on the lawn extending from Harland’s Haven. English Professor Barbara Carson read a poem by W.H. Auden, “Stop all the
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All my experiences, good and bad, had strengthened my capacity for empathy, confidence and resilience. The example of my family — the dogged determination to be and do the best they could — stimulated my development of those values. Clocks,” and members of my family and various trustees offered remembrances. We played a prerecorded electronic composition by Per, Harland’s son. In my comments, I noted that Harland was the smartest, funniest and sexiest person I had ever known. I missed him and, feeling lonely, wrote these words: “The moon is round and orange, it has an Asian face and…wings. ‘Oh, look at that.’ But you are not here to share my enchantment.”
RET IRE D … S ORT OF My decision to retire was largely driven by Harland’s poor health. He died just four months later, and I was glad to have that time with him. I had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but didn’t want people to feel sorry for me and didn’t talk about it. When I told my family that I was retiring, Ariel, one of my daughter’s twin girls, said, “But, Grammy, then you won’t be important anymore.” Perhaps not in the same way, but I did plenty of planning to ensure an active post-Rollins life. This was important to me. I had never learned to play golf or bridge and had no hobbies but reading and writing. I was concerned about adapting to a nondemanding, low-energy existence. I fulfilled my term on two corporate boards, but remained on three nonprofit boards: the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Winter Park Health Foundation and the Parkinson Association for Central Florida. Retirement has turned out to be anything but quiet or uneventful. I moved to The Mayflower Retirement Community, close to Rollins, and found many opportunities for physical activity, intellectual challenge, community involvement and family interaction. I’ve written an occasional opinion piece for the Orlando Sentinel, and continue to meet with a few young men and women whom I’ve been mentoring for years. I host a monthly discussion group made up of 16 diverse and politically active people from the community. At this writing, we’ve been meeting and talking for about 15 years. I’m also involved in a discussion group consisting of three other retired Rollins professors, and started another group called “Forum for Ideas” at the Mayflower, to which I invite professors, poets, businesspeople and others to make presentations. Lately, we’ve been meeting over Zoom. In October, I donated $100,000 to establish the President Rita Bornstein Archival Records Endowment. Its purpose will be to support the digitation and preservation of archival records housed in the Olin Library’s Department of Archives and Special Collections. I remain drawn to the possibilities of innovation and change in education. Why, you may ask? To assure that our educational institutions and their leaders provide opportunities for every student to find a path to a successful future. So that even a young, insecure girl from a broken family, with nothing to hold on to but the faint idea of a meaningful future, can launch her life.
ASK THE EXPERT
It’s the Affordability Ticket A
BRIAN CIRILLO PARTNER/BROKER, BALDWIN PARK REALTY
Brian Cirillo has 25 years of experience as a top-producing real estate agent and broker in Central Florida. His background as an owner for several business ventures and as a co-owner and founder has given his real estate business a high level of experience, leadership and professionalism. For more, visit baldwinparkre.com.
s homeowners consider moving, a newly updated tax break has allowed some of them to get more home by paying less taxes. Buyers typically plot monthly expenses based on the mortgage. But I often see them overlook savings that they would gain on their property taxes. Many buyers mistakenly figure monthly costs based on either a formula or on the last tax bill on the home they want to purchase. So, what’s wrong with that? Property taxes vary widely in a state that prides itself on rewarding homeownership. The longer you own your home, the more you save on your tax bill, thanks to benefits tied to Florida’s homestead exemption. A longtime homeowner can easily save thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars, in a fast-appreciating area like Winter Park. First-time buyers pay the full freight, at least initially. So, yes, you are making a mistake to calculate property taxes based on what a seller is paying in taxes on the home you want to purchase. Taking a more studied approach to your future tax bill can mean the difference between settling for a sensible home or landing a home that might have otherwise been a stretch. Let’s walk it back a little. Here’s a little secret: I’m not as young as I used to be (although I may be younger than I look). After working in this market for several decades, I can remember homeowners complaining that
they couldn’t sell their homes because they would lose all the annual savings they had accumulated as part of Florida’s prized homestead exemption benefits. Golden handcuffs — that’s what some people called the tax break that anchored them to their homes. The solution? About a dozen years ago, voters amended the state constitution so that homeowners could take their tax savings with them to a new address. Sadly, bureaucracy won out over marketing when the state opted to call it “Portability” (unrelated to either porta potties or campus portables). I like to think of it instead as “The Ticket,” because it’s a ticket that affords buyers a better home. Think of it as trading off some of your tax bill for added home equity. How much can it save? A virtual stroll through Winter Park’s property tax records show homeowners often accumulated thousands of dollars in savings on their annual tax bills. Thanks to the 2008 constitutional amendment, those savings can be applied to the next Florida home they purchase and live in. When homeowners are doing the math to decide how much they can afford on their next home, they should look to their own tax bill for the size of their exemption. That’s the size of, well, the tax-savings ticket they can take to their next Florida home. Say the savings is $3,000; that breaks down to about $250 a
month, and buyers could instead spend that money on a slightly more expensive home. It won’t change the mortgage amount you can qualify to borrow, but it can make buyers more comfortable with a larger mortgage so they can get the home they really want. Here’s an example: You bought a home a decade ago for $150,000. The market value shot up to $300,000, but the taxable value edged up to only $200,000, thanks to Florida’s homestead exemption rules. You don’t get taxed on that $100,000 of difference. Instead of waving goodbye to that nice little tax break when you move, you can take it with you and apply it to your next Florida home purchase. That should save you close to $2,000 a year. The reason Portability has been in the news lately is because voters approved yet another constitutional amendment, which extends the time homeowners have to use this savings ticket from two years to three years. There are plenty of nuances. For instance, it doesn’t work for rental homes, and the share of savings is less when you downsize. Spending a little time on the county property appraiser’s website is worthwhile. It’s a reward for homeowners in the Sunshine State. Not only can you take it with you, you can use the savings you gained to buy the home you truly want.
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OUR WAY Sure, it’s technically winter. But in Winter Park — indeed, throughout Florida — people have for generations sought to escape snow and frigid temperatures. But if we ever experience what most folks consider to be a true winter, we can’t think of a cozier place to hunker down than in the Casa Feliz Historic Home & Venue, which radiates warmth even when the weather’s chilly. Casa Feliz — “happy house” in Spanish — was completed in 1932, and is the signature creation of legendary architect James Gamble Rogers II. Initially known as the Barbour Estate, this Andalusian-style masonry farmhouse was saved from demolition in 2000, when community members raised $1.2 million and had it moved across Interlachen Avenue to its present location on the Winter Park Golf Course. Today, it’s a combination museum and public venue where countless couples have staged weddings. It’s also an ideal setting for fashion photography, which is why the Winter Park Magazine team returned there for the third time to showcase hot looks for this (sort of) cool season. PHOTOGRAPHY: RAFAEL TONGOL STYLING: MARIANNE ILUNGA MAKEUP/HAIR: ELSIE KNAB MODEL: MEISHANG OF MODERN MUSE MODELS LOCATION: CASA FELIZ HISTORIC HOME & VENUE
SPECIAL NOTICE: CASA FELIZ WOULD APPRECIATE OUR HELP It seems hard to believe, but it’s been 15 years since the relocated and renovated Casa Feliz has been open to the public. Instead of celebrating, though, the home’s board of directors has hunkered down. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, the venue’s rental income has been cut by a third, programs have been canceled because of social distancing and the usual fundraising activities have been suspended. As a result, Casa Feliz — which has always been self-supporting and receives no taxpayer money — would appreciate your help. A special website has been established for donations during this uncertain time. Please visit casafeliz.us/2020annualfund and give what you can to help this Winter Park treasure cover operating and maintenance expenses until the health crisis passes.
Meishang wears a leather jacket by Jakett ($550), a houndstooth tweed dress by Milly ($425), a houndstooth tweed hat by Cap Zone ($24) and a pair of black suede mules by Sam Edelman ($140), all from Tuni Winter Park. Her ankle-length black jeans by Paige ($219) are from Monkee’s of Winter Park, while her white top-handle handbag by Jimmy Choo, ($1,650) is from Jimmy Choo Mall at Millenia.
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Meishang wears a black feather turtleneck dress by Tyler Boe ($246) and black wing detail earrings by Mignonne Gavigan ($225), both from Monkee’s of Winter Park. Her ankle b oots by Ziren Q ($195) and pink graffiti bag by Anca Barbu ($495) are both from Tuni Winter Park.
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Meishang wears a pair of 7 For All Man Kind bluejeans ($168), a blue floral buttondown shirt by Reimagined the Icon ($98), a pink faux fur detailed cape by Diomi ($998) and a pair of blue flower detail statement earrings by Nahmu ($44), all from The Grove in Winter Park. Her blue sunglasses ($235) and mini navy bag ($1,150) are both by Jimmy Choo, and from Jimmy Choo, Mall at Millenia.
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Meishang wears a multicolor midi dress by Marie Oliver ($478), a pink and gold clutch by Wknd Wyfr ($128) and a pair of white sneakers by Dolce Vita ($125), all from Monkeeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s of Winter Park. Her statement sunglasses by Jimmy Choo ($420) are from Jimmy Choo, Mall at Millenia.
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Meishang wears a black lace camisole by Coco Lace ($87), a reversible bomber jacket by Johnny Was ($380), a pair of green high-waisted pants by Karina Grimaldi ($298), a gold coin necklace/belt by Yochi New York ($185) and a pair of tiger print boots by Sam Edelman ($180), all from Tuni Winter Park. She also wears a gold-tone link bracelet by Sahira Jewelry Design ($45), a cuff bracelet by Petra ($68), a gold-tone link bracelet by Chandler ($68), a pair of pearl-detail hairpins by Audrey Bobbie ($18) and a gold-tone dome ring by Sahira Jewelry Design ($45), all from The Grove Winter Park. W INTE R 2 0 2 1 W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
CAROLYN BIRD • 1942–2020
Carole Moreland, also a past president and festival board member since 1978, lice Moulton recently spied a colorful birthday card and recogwas one of Bird’s closest friends. When both women had young daughters, they nized that its sentiments perfectly described her longtime friend worked together on PTA projects and the YMCA's Indian Princess program. and Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival colleague Carolyn Bird, “Carolyn would do anything for her many friends, and the feeling was who was entering the final stages of her battle with lung cancer. mutual,” says Moreland, who adds that Bird never started a project that she So she sent the card, which read: “You are like rainbows, unicorns and stars. didn’t complete. “She’ll be sorely missed by all who knew her.” You make life colorful, magical and so much brighter.” Just a few weeks later, Bird, who was born in Miami, graduated from Coral Gables High School Bird, 77, died in hospice care. and Florida State University. She worked in Atlanta as a flight attendant and “Carolyn was a very special person and much loved by so many,” says met her husband-to-be, Dr. Morris T. Bird, on a blind date arranged by her Moulton. “I feel fortunate to have been her friend.” roommate and close friend, Nancy Bagby, now a real estate agent with Fannie Moulton is a past festival president and a past president of the Winter Park Hillman + Associates. Sidewalk Art Festival Foundation. Bird was a volunteer and a member of the In 1974, the couple settled in Winfestival’s board of directors since 1975. ter Park, where they raised their two But more than that, Bird also epitodaughters and where Bird became inmized the heart and soul of the annual volved in civic life. In addition to the event, which is considered one of the festival, she was a board member of most important outdoor art shows in the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpthe Southeast and draws hundreds of ture Gardens and became a certified thousands of visitors to Central Park Master Gardener in 2006. every year. “Carolyn was just so full of enerShe was without question a warm, gy and wanted to help,” says Debbie generous and witty woman whose efKomanski, CEO and executive direcfortless charm beguiled demanding arttor of the museum. “Everyone fell in ists and diffused disputes that invariably love with her.” arise among all-volunteer organizations Komanski says that Bird’s formitasked with herculean responsibilities. dable gardening skills were valuable. Bird, though, didn’t seek the spotBut her people skills made her perhaps light and said that she never wanted to an even greater asset to the museum be president of the nonprofit organizaA mainstay of the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, Carolyn Bird was beloved for during its annual Paint Out — a jurtion that runs the festival, according to her work ethic and her sense of humor. ied, invitation-only event that hosts 25 Moulton. She could be more effective, nationally acclaimed plein-air artists. she insisted, running committees and Notes Komanski: “In true Carolyn fashion, she was in charge of artist hosmentoring new board members. pitality. The artists all loved her, too.” Sarasota-based painter Michelle Held “Yet Carolyn was one of the strongest guiding forces of the festival, workdescribes Bird as “a generous soul” and recalls her “cooking day and night to ing quietly behind the scenes,” Moulton adds. “She was a great organizer and ensure all the artists were given the most fabulous food ever.” was always looking for new and improved ways of doing things. The festival Some of that love was on display during an October memorial service for doesn’t even realize yet the impact that her absence will have — but I guaranBird held on the grand patio of the Capen-Showalter House, a historic hometee you it will be felt in many ways.” turned-venue on the grounds of the museum. Bird was likewise a superb ambassador in the community. David Odahowski, “What a wonderful, warm and kind person Carolyn was, with the perfect president of the Edyth Bush Foundation, says to “count me among the many amount of spunk,” recalls Laura Walda, an attorney with Lowndes and curwho were drawn into the festival by this beautiful person.” The foundation presrent president of the museum’s board of trustees. “I am so grateful to have ents an annual $5,000 “Art of Philanthropy” purchase award to a festival artist. known her and for her friendship and generosity. Most recently Bird chaired the Leon Theadore Schools Exhibit, which was Winter Park Magazine, which has for years published the official festival named in honor of Theadore, who died in 2000. A festival president in 1983, program guide, will miss not only Bird’s friendship but the large quantities he taught art at Hungerford High School and Edgewater High School, and of spicy pretzels she would deliver to its offices after each festival concluded. helped organize the student display that would eventually bear his name. (The Others say the unexpected gifts of homemade goodies were typical of Bird’s unusual spelling of “Theadore” is correct.) kindness and her ability to make everyone with whom she worked feel special. Bird made it her mission to ensure that Theadore would be remembered as Bird is survived by Morris, her husband of 54 years, and her two children, a person who impacted lives — not just a name on a tent. She reached out to Christine Belin (David) of Lafayette, Colorado, and Catherine Bird (Jeff Wisecup) his former students, solicited testimonials and helped Winter Park Magazine of Columbus, Ohio; her grandsons, Samuel Belin, Timothy Belin, Benjamin prepare a tribute that appeared in 2019’s official festival program. Wisecup and Jackson Wisecup; and her adored Boston Terrier, Monkey Kisses. Carolyn was a very giving person,” says Carol Wisler, a past president and Donations in Bird’s memory may be made to the Albin Polasek Museum & festival board member since 1985. “When she saw a need, she was there to Sculpture Gardens, 633 Osceola Avenue, Winter Park, 32789, or the Winter help. Many people received a kindness from Carolyn that no one else ever knew Park Sidewalk Art Festival, P.O. Box 597, Winter Park, 32790 in support of about — from small things to organizing help that lasted for months when the Leon Theadore Schools Exhibit. someone was in need. She didn’t do it for recognition. It was just in her nature.”
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MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR
MAYORAL DEBATE AT GOOD MORNING WINTER PARK
STATE OF THE CITY
February 5, 2021
February 19, 2021
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George’s Cafe is owned and operated by George John Paul II (right) and his best friend, Alice Eide (left). The welcoming location (site of the former Brandywine’s Delicatessen) offers plenty of bang for the buck.
BY GEORGE, IT’S TIME FOR LUNCH The time is right for a straightforward café on Park Avenue. This one serves up great sandwiches (with house-made ingredients!) and memorable cookies. BY RONA GINDIN PHOTOGRAPHY BY RAFAEL TONGOL
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hose $130 steaks we feature here, those artfully plated luxury foods, those chef passion projects — poof! Gone from our minds. In this issue, we’ll get our culinary kicks from a simple sandwich or well-made salad featuring fresh ingredients. Period. For now, we have no bandwidth for the fussed-up feasts which, until March 2020, were a highlight of Winter Park’s dining scene. Introducing George’s Café, although most of you probably know George — or at least his food. The eatery, which since April has served daytime meals in the old Brandywine’s Delicatessen location on North Park Avenue, is the right restaurant for these challenging times. Here’s why: The food is straightforward. The service is friendly. And the outside seating area is expansive. Trifecta! George’s Café is a sandwich shop, known also for its oversized cookies. It now serves breakfast, too, in a homey space filled with mismatched furniture and doodads that represent the interests of owner George John Paul II. (He was named for his father, not the Beatles, so there’s no Ringo.) Still, those interests, as you may have guessed, include Beatles’ memorabilia. There are also decorative giant fish and assorted Key West gewgaws. The floor stickers reminding customers to stand six feet apart are canine paws because, according to Paul, his English bulldog pets have been “the loves of my life.” You might remember George’s Café from its small storefront location on Lee Road — then known as George’s Gourmet Cookies and Catering, which operated there for five years prior to moving in the spring. I had heard about it often from enthusiastic friends, so finally I went for lunch a while back. The establishment’s name didn’t sound much like a sitdown restaurant, but what the heck. At the time, I was thrilled to see an egg-salad sandwich on the menu, since I had been on a futile 20-year quest to find one I liked at an Orlando-area restaurant. But I was disappointed with the sandwich, and had not since returned to George’s. Yet, friends continued to talk up the place, and I didn’t understand why. Then it occurred to me that my bafflement was based on a single experience from several years earlier. Perhaps it was time to try again. On a recent Wednesday, I walked into the relocated George’s Café and ordered several sandwiches with two side dishes apiece as well as chili, two green salads (classic with mandarin oranges and pecans, and brie and apple with maple walnut dressing, both excellent), two cookies and an indulgent Danish. I thoroughly and completely enjoyed every single item — except the egg-salad sandwich. I guess I’m just impossible to please when it comes to egg salad. Here’s what I learned: George’s Café makes its food from scratch. Unlike most Central Florida restaurants, which buy pre-cooked and often pre-sliced deli meats, George’s uses its oven.
George’s specialty sandwiches include the Philly cheesesteak (center), which features USDA Choice prime rib sliced and topped with grilled onions and peppers plus provolone on a hoagie. Side choices include house-made french fries and macaroni salad The chicken salad sandwich (top left) comes on a croissant with a choice of sides that includes potato salad and roasted beets. The Abigail (top right) is the cafe’s version of a Reuben. It’s made with house-roasted corned beef, fresh sauerkraut and imported Swiss and Russian dressing, then grilled on fresh, house-made bread. W INTE R 2 0 2 1 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
How about a healthy lunch? The fresh beet and goat cheese salad (above left) encompasses creamy goat cheese, romaine lettuce, field greens and pine nuts with a balsamic dressing. Also shown is a brie and apple salad, which is a full meal loaded with wedges of imported cheese, crisp apple slices and roasted pecans with maple-walnut dressing. George’s awardwinning chili (above right) is topped with sour cream, white cheddar cheese, green onions and Applewood bacon. It comes with cornbread or any other kind of bread your heart desires.
It roasts turkey breast, which you’ll find in the Puddsy, a baguette sandwich with bacon, muenster cheese and house-made sun-dried tomato dressing. The steak in the Elizabeth is tenderloin topped with sautéed onion, smoked provolone cheese and Béarnaise sauce. The French dip is loaded with USDA Choice prime rib and accompanied by French onion au jus and house-made steak sauce. And let’s not forget the Reuben, which here is called the Abigail after George’s first French bulldog. It’s made with house-roasted corned beef and rolled (I would have preferred it flat; what is this, TooJay’s?) with fresh sauerkraut, imported Swiss and Russian dressing before being grilled on freshbaked bread. The bacon is, of course, Applewood — the best. The potato salad, the cole slaw with celery seeds, the chunky applesauce — all made in the kitchen.
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The salad dressings are house-made, as are the potato chips. The breads are baked in-house from imported French dough. A pre-pandemic rye was flown in from New York; it’ll be back eventually. “I want people to feel that our food is just like what their grandmother made,” Paul adds. Except, presumably, you never got a bill at your grandmother’s house. Which is to say, George’s isn’t cheap — but it’s reasonable for the quality. Each sandwich is about $15, while salads are in the $12 range. “You get what you pay for,” George says. I agree, although I balked at the $120 bill for my (huuuuge) take-home lunch. Still, I’d go back in a flash. It doesn’t jump out on the menu, but George’s — owned by a devout Catholic who had considered becoming a priest — also offers up some serious old-fashioned Jewish fare.
The cabbage soup is reminiscent of that served at Ronnie’s, the legendary Orlando deli, which was owned by family friends of Paul’s. Brisket, matzo ball soup and potato pancakes are other staples. And those pickles! The crisp spears are exactly like the half-sours set out on the table in New York delis. George’s makes those, too. George John Paul II has spent nearly his entire 62 years in Winter Park. You might have used Classic Catering, which Paul started with his late mother, Leona, in 1989. The business closed in 2010, shortly after Leona’s death and the national economic collapse. All told, Paul has been in food-related businesses his entire life, starting with his parents’ grocery store and the Holiday House and Hostess House buffet restaurants. Paul still does catering gigs. In fact, providing
Although it’s basically a sandwich shop, George’s makes fantastic cookies as well as brownies and other yummy baked desserts. They’re made in small batches, Paul says, which means they’re less greasy and more robust-looking than most restaurant cookies.
A TRADITION OF SUCCESS
“#1 K-12 Private School”
“Best Private School” 20+ Years
– Orlando Magazine
Sanika Dange, Class of 2009
Award-winning WESH 2 News anchor
Toby Wosskow (right), Class of 2011
Filmmaker in consideration for 92nd OSCARS®
– Playground Magazine
Joel Berry II, Class of 2014
Collegiate National Champion & professional basketball player
PreK–12 on-campus and digital campus options available.
www.lhps.org • 407.206.1900 ext. 1 • 901 Highland Avenue • Orlando, Florida 32803 W INTE R 2 0 2 1 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
DINING The interior is a homey space filled with mismatched furniture and doodads that represent the interests of owner George John Paul II, which range from Key West culture to Beatles’ music. The café also features an expansive outdoor seating area — perfect for the times.
food for events accounts for 60 percent of his business — and the food comes from the same kitchen that the café uses. “When people eat in our restaurant, I want to let them know this is an example of the quality of our catering food; they’re not two different things,” Paul says. “We use the same prime rib, the same tenderloin.” That’s how crab cakes Benedict came to be on the breakfast menu. George’s already creates the seafood patties for catered events, so why not share them in the dining room? “From an inventory standpoint, from a consistency standpoint, it just makes sense,” Paul adds. Now, we need to discuss the cookies. George’s
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always has a variety of cookies that are big, round and look like scones. They date back to the Classic Catering days, when Paul determined that the company needed a signature item and settled on distinctive cookies. This was in the late 1980s, around the time Mrs. Fields, David’s and, locally, Selma’s were changing the cookie business nationwide. Paul tinkered with recipes for two years, throwing out batch after batch of creations that friends assured him were terrific. “I wanted a cookie that didn’t flatten out and didn’t look greasy on top,” he says. Paul — inspired by something he had seen on the Food Channel — then began baking cookies in small batches. “With large batches, the heat of
the mixer starts to melt the product,” he says. “And that’s where they bleed, and the grease comes out.” Also, he found that covering nuts with a light dusting of flour keeps grease at bay. The result is a moist, flavorful cookie. I urge you to try a peanut butter one. And a chocolate chip. The restaurant’s menu proclaims: “Life’s Short. Eat Cookies,” which sounds like excellent advice. Like any small business, George’s is about relationships as much as food — and Paul’s relationships go back a long way. The Bishop Moore alumnus seems to know, or have gone to school with, pretty much everyone in town. It’s also about giving back. Paul regularly hands cash to homeless people and is convinced that prayers from one grateful recipient helped to cure a sick friend. He also gives each day’s leftover cookies to the Winter Park Fire-Rescue Department. OK, these aren’t huge, gaudy acts of magnanimity. But they’re important to Paul, a believer in karma (although that’s not a term he would likely use). “Gandhi said what we do might be insignificant, but we should do it anyway,” Paul says. “I just think we should try to help one another and be kind — with sincerity.” Humbly, Paul accepted kindnesses in return when the pandemic struck and his catering engagements were cancelled in rapid succession. The crisis erupted just as he was moving the restaurant into its new space and just as the state banned restaurants from allowing diners to eat on the premises. Selling $100 gift cards for $70 was a way to raise quick cash. One local philanthropist and longtime acquaintance, recalls Paul, came in and announced: “I want to buy $50 gift cards for 100 of my friends. No negotiations. This is what I’m going to pay you for them.” The amount, he says, was many times what it should have been. “It makes you realize that you hear about the horror stories but seldom hear about the people who are supportive,” Paul notes. “We’ve had so many of them. So much of what has happened has been by the grace of God.” So, when you really need to experience a good version of a food you’ve known forever (OK, maybe not the egg salad) or a friendly smile, George’s Café may be the place to go. “I don’t take myself seriously,” Paul says. “But I take what I do seriously.” George’s Café 505 North Park Avenue, Winter Park 407-622-1499 • georgescafewp.com
WELCOME TO WINTER PARK Index to Chamber Members Index to Chamber Members Apparel
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12 The Winter Park Distilling Company 1288 N Orange Ave 13 Winter Park Chamber of Commerce 151 W Lyman Ave 4 The Alfond Inn 300 E New England Ave 307 S Park Ave 200 W New England Ave 13 Winter Park Chamber of Commerce 151 W Lyman Ave 14 Winter Park Farmers' Market 300 E New England Ave 148 W Morse Blvd 14 Winter Park Farmers' Market 200 W New England15 AveWinter Park Train Station Interior Design 15 Winter Park Train Station 148 W Morse Blvd 1 Ethan Allen 329 N Park Ave * Please note - Chamber Member is out of the map area, see edge 329 N Park Ave of map for approximate direction * Please note - Chamber Member is out of the map area, see edge Jewelry of map for approximate direction 1 Be On Park 152 S Park Ave 2 Jewelers on the Park 116 S Park Ave 152 S Park Ave 3 Lauren Sigman Collection 341 N Pennsylvania Ave 116 S Park Ave 4 Orlando Watch Company 329 N Park Ave 341 N Pennsylvania Ave 329 N Park Ave
Be On Park Jewelers on the Park Lauren Sigman Collection Orlando Watch Company
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5 Central 14 G e ne Central 5 Park Travel 5 23 525 S Park Ave Park 6 Travel Health & Beauty 1 Luxury Trips 190 E Morse Blvd 6 10 New England Avenue New Eng Health & Beauty 1 Luxury Trips 190 E Morse Blvd 1 Advanced Park Dental 329 N Park Ave venue Weddings New England A Avenue d n a l g n E New 18 1 2 Club Pilates Winter Park 1222 N Orange Ave Advanced Park Dental 329 N Park Ave Weddings 3 1 The Collection Bridal 301 N Park Ave 18 1 214 N park Ave Club Pilates Winter Park 1222 N Orange Ave 3 elevatione 9 1 3 The Collection Bridal 4 Eyes &1Optics 312 N Park301 AveN Park Ave elevatione 214 N park Ave 6 9 1 Instagrammable Spots 5 7 10 5 MassageLuXe Winter Park 2217 Aloma Ave Eyes & Optics 312 N Park Ave 6 9 Instagrammable Spots 5 7 13 10 6 Orlando Skin Solutions 470 W New England Ave 1 AdventHealth 200 N Lakemont Ave MassageLuXe Winter Park 2217 Aloma Ave 9 Welcome 14 e n s n i M o t a 7 13 & Day Spa 327 S Park200 AveN Lakemont Ave2 Casa Feliz N Park Ave Orlando Skin Solutions 470 W New England7AvePristine1 Nail AdventHealth 8Avenue 14 Welcome 656 5 Center 8 See Eyewear 342 S Park656 AveN Park Ave 3 City Hall 401 S Park Ave Pristine Nail & Day Spa 327 S Park Ave 2 Casa Feliz 18 8 16 5 9 Thomas & Cosmetic Dentistry 201 N Lakemont Ave Ave 4 Cocina 214 Ave Center 151 E Welbourne See Eyewear 342 S Park Ave 3 Family City Hall 401 S Park 18 16 Lyman Ave n a m y L 5 Grenada Court 118 S Park Ave Thomas Family & Cosmetic Dentistry 201 N Lakemont Ave 4 Cocina 214 151 E Welbourne Ave M ichi14 gan Av e n u e Hospitals Lyman n Ave 6 Hilton Garden Inn 1275 maRoad LyLee 5 Grenada Court 118 S Park Ave 14 13 Hospitals 7 Mead Botanical Garden S Denning Dr 6 Hilton Garden 1275 Lee City Hall 1 AdventHealth Winter ParkInn 200 N Lakemont AveRoad 13 13 1300 445 N Park Ave 7 Mead Botanical Garden 1300 S Denning Dr 8 Morse Museum of American Art City Hall AdventHealth Winter Park 200 N Lakemont Ave M iller 13 9 Rollins College Rose Garden 1000 Holt Ave Hotels 8 Morse Museum of American Art 445 N Park Ave 16 10 The Alfond Inn at Rollins 300 E New England Ave 9 Rollins College Rose Garden 1000 Holt Ave Hotels 1 Comfort Suites Downtown 2416 N Orange Ave 276 S Orlando Ave 10 The Alfond Inn at Rollins 300 E New England 11 Ave The Glass Knife 3 Indiana Ave3nue 1345 Lee Rd Comfort Suites Downtown 2416 N Orange Ave 2 Hilton Garden Inn Winter Park 3 11 The Glass Knife 276 S Orlando Ave 12 The Winter Park Distilling Company 1288 N Orange 3 Ave 3 Park Plaza Hotel 307 S Park Ave Hilton Garden Inn Winter Park 1345 Lee Rd Avenue
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1 Brandywine Square 1 310 Park 310 S Park400 AveN Park Ave 2 Christian Science Reading Room 1 South Brandywine Square 2 4 Rivers 1600 W Fairbanks AveAve 310 S Park Ave 3 e-tennis 2 Smokehouse Christian Science Reading Room 322 N Park 3 Barnie's CoffeeKitchen 118 S Park Ave 1600 W Fairbanks Ave 4 Follett Bookstore at Rollins College 3 e-tennis 2145 W Fairbanks Ave 4 Black Bean Deli Bookstore at Rollins 1346 N Orange 118 S Park Ave 4 Follett College 200 WAve Fairbanks Ave5 frank avenue 326 S Park119 AveE Morse Blvd 6 Fred Astaire Dance Studios * 1346 N Orange Ave 5 blu on5the frank 6 Chez Vincent England Ave 326 S Park Ave 6 Fred Astaire Dance Studios 533 * W New 1400 Howell Branch 7Rd My Urban Lodge 151 E Welbourne Ave England8AveOne Florida Bank 533 W New England7AveCocina7214My Urban Lodge 444 W New 8 Financier 212 N Park531 AveW Morse Blvd 151 E Welbourne Ave 8 Pattiserie One Florida Bank 9 Garp and Fuss 348 N ParkSuite Ave 100 212 N Park Ave 9 Partridge Tree Gift Shop 10 Luma on AveS Park Ave 348 N Park Ave 10 Piante Design 9 Park Partridge Tree Gift Shop 290 S Park316 11 Orchid10 ThaiPiante Cuisine 305 N Park AveLincoln Ave 290 S Park Ave 11 Rifle Paper Co Design 141 12 Panera11 Bread Park Ave. 329 N Park Ave 305 N Park Ave Rifle Paper Co 558 W New England12 AveTen Thousand Villages 13 Park Avenue 400 S Park329 AveN Park Ave 329 N Park Ave 13 The Seamstress 12 TenSmoothie ThousandCafe Villages 14 Power13 House Cafe 111 E Lyman Ave 400 S Park Ave The Seamstress 1143 N Orange Ave 14 The Shade Store 124 N Park204 AveN Park Ave 111 E Lyman Ave 15 Prato 14 The Shade Store 15 The Spice and Tea Exchange 16 Proper15 & Wild 155 E Morse 124 N Park Ave 16 The Woman's Club of The Spice and Tea Exchange 309Blvd N Park Ave Coffee 110 S Orlando Ave 155 E Morse Blvd 17 San Julian's Winter Park, Inc 16 The Woman's Club of 115 E Lyman 110 S Orlando Ave 18 Sushipop Winter 17 Williams-Sonoma WinterPark Park, Inc 419Ave S Interlachen Ave 610 W Morse 115 E Lyman Ave 19 The COOP 18 Writers Block Bookstore 17 Williams-Sonoma 142Blvd S Park Ave Ave 610 W Morse Blvd 20 The Glass 18 Knife Writers Block Bookstore 276 S Orlando 316 N Park Ave Sweets 276 S Orlando Ave 21 The Imperial at Washburn Imports Winter Park 170 E Morse Blvd Sweets 1 Gelato-go Orlando 136 S Park Ave 170 E Morse Blvd 22 The Parkview 2 Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream 1 Gelato-go Orlando 513 S Park Ave 23 The Wine Room on Park Avenue 270 S Park Ave 136 S Park Ave 2 Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream 122 N Park Ave 24 UMI Japanese Restaurant 525 S Park Ave 270 S Park Ave
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310 Park South 4 Rivers Smokehouse Barnie's CoffeeKitchen Black Bean Deli blu on the avenue Chez Vincent Cocina 214 Financier Pattiserie Garp and Fuss Luma on Park Orchid Thai Cuisine Panera Bread - Park Ave. Park Avenue Smoothie Cafe Power House Cafe Prato Proper & Wild San Julian's Coffee Sushipop Winter Park The COOP The Glass Knife The Imperial at Washburn Imports Winter Park 22 The Parkview 23 The Wine Room on Park Avenue 24 UMI Japanese Restaurant
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1 311 S Park Ave 1 Winter Park Publishing 2 Berri Lynn's 326 N Park Ave Company, LLC 311 S Park Ave 1 Winter Park Publishing 3 Charyli 400 S Park201 AveW Canton Ave 326 N Park Ave Company, LLC Museums & Culture 4 Current 128 S Park Ave 400 S Park Ave 5 Dear Jane Museums & Culture329 N Park Ave 128 S Park Ave 1 Albin Polasek Museum & 6 Forema 329 N Park Ave Sculpture Gardens 1 Boutique Albin Polasek Museum & 300 N Park Ave 7 John CraigSculpture Clothier Gardens 132 S Park633 AveOsceola Ave 2 Axiom Fine Art 300 N Park Ave 8 Leonardo Avenue 121 E Welbourne Ave England3AveBach Festival Society of Winter Park 132 S Park Ave 2 5th Axiom Fine Art 268 W New 9 Lilly Pulitzer 114 Park N Park231 AveN Interlachen Ave 121 E Welbourne Ave 4 Morse Museum of American Art 3 Bach Festival Society of Winter 10 Lucky Brand JeansMuseum of American323 AveN Park Ave 114 N Park Ave 5 Ocean Blue Galleries 4 Morse ArtS Park445 11 Monkee’s Winter Park 444 W New England 323 S Park Ave 6 Passport Pop Up Gallery 5 of Ocean Blue Galleries 202 N ParkAve Ave 444 W New England Ave 7 Scenic Boat Tour 6 Passport Pop Up Gallery Suite 115 307 S Park Ave 12 Sara Campbell Ltd 346 N Park Ave Suite 115 7 Scenic Boat Tour 312 E Morse Blvd 8 The Winter Park Playhouse 13 Siegel's Park Park Playhouse 330 S Park711 AveN Orange Ave 9 Winter Park History Museum 346 N Park Ave 8 Winter The Winter 14 Synergy 202 S Park200 AveW New England Ave 330 S Park Ave 9 Winter Park History Museum 15 The Grove 341 N Pennsylvania Ave Real Estate 202 S Park Ave 16 The Impeccable 337 S Park Ave 341 N Pennsylvania Ave RealPig Estate 1 Beyond Commercial * 17 Tugboat and The Bird 318 N Park Ave 337 S Park Ave 2 C Brenner Inc 1 Beyond Commercial * 175 Lookout Pl 18 Tuni 301 S Park Ave 318 N Park Ave 3 Fannie Hillman & Associates 2 C Brenner Inc 3586 Aloma Ave 19 Zingara Souls 208 N Park Ave 301 S Park Ave 4 Fannie Hillman + Associates 3 Fannie Hillman & Associates 122 S Park Ave 208 N Park Ave 4 Fannie Hillman + Associates 205 W Fairbanks Ave5 Keller Williams Winter Park Brewery 5 Keller Williams Winter Park 147 W Lyman Ave 6 Kelly Price & Company 1 The Winter ParkPrice Distillery 1288 N Orange 7 Owens Realty Services * 6 Kelly & Company 243 WAve Park Ave 1288 N Orange Ave 8 Palmano Group Real Estate 7 Owens Realty Services * 1646 33rd St Business Services Brokerage 8 Palmano Group Real Estate 1 BKHM CPAs 1560 N Orange Brokerage 444 WAve New England9AvePremier Sotheby's International Realty Farmers Insurance 225 W Canton Ave Premier Sotheby's International 1560 N Orange Ave 2 Felder9Agency 114 S Park233 AveW Park Ave Realty 225 W Canton Ave 3 Frog Religious 4 Larissa Humiston, LCSW 1414 Gay Rd 114 S Park Ave Religious 5 Leading Edge Title 243 W Park Ave 1414 Gay Rd 1 All Saints Church of Winter Park 6 Moss, 1Krusick and Associates, YorkE Ave 243 W Park Ave All Saints Church of LLC Winter 501 ParkS New338 Lyman Ave 2 San Pedro Spiritual Development Stump, 501 S New York Ave7 Swann,2 Hadley, Center * San Pedro Spiritual Development Dietrich & Center Spears * 200 E New2400 England DikeAve Rd Shoes 200 E New England Ave
Bebe's & Liz's Berri Lynn's Charyli Current Dear Jane Forema Boutique John Craig Clothier Leonardo 5th Avenue Lilly Pulitzer Lucky Brand Jeans Monkee’s of Winter Park
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200 N Lakemont Ave 656 N Park Ave 401 S Park Ave 151 E Welbourne Ave 118 S Park Ave 1275 Lee Road 1300 S Denning Dr 445 N Park Ave 1000 Holt Ave 300 E New England Ave 276 S Orlando Ave 1288 N Orange Ave 151 W Lyman Ave 200 W New England Ave 148 W Morse Blvd
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AdventHealth Casa Feliz City Hall Cocina 214 Grenada Court Hilton Garden Inn Mead Botanical Garden Morse Museum of American Art Rollins College Rose Garden The Alfond Inn at Rollins The Glass Knife The Winter Park Distilling Company Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Winter Park Farmers' Market Winter Park Train Station
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Gelato-go Orlando Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream
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419 S Interlachen Ave 142 S Park Ave 316 N Park Ave
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416 N Orange Ave 345 Lee Rd 07 S Park Ave 00 E New England Ave
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1400 Howell Branch Rd 444 W New England Ave 531 W Morse Blvd Suite 100 316 S Park Ave 141 Lincoln Ave 558 W New England Ave 329 N Park Ave 1143 N Orange Ave 204 N Park Ave 309 N Park Ave
Lyman Garfield Avenue Comstock Comstock Ave
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29 N Park Ave 222 N Orange Ave 14 N park Ave 12 N Park Ave 217 Aloma Ave 70 W New England Ave 27 S Park Ave 42 S Park Ave 01 N Lakemont Ave
Partridge Tree Gift Shop Piante Design Rifle Paper Co Ten Thousand Villages The Seamstress The Shade Store The Spice and Tea Exchange The Woman's Club of Winter Park, Inc 17 Williams-Sonoma 18 Writers Block Bookstore
70 S Park Ave 25 S Park Ave
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Fred Astaire Dance Studios * My Urban Lodge One Florida Bank
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10 S Park Ave 600 W Fairbanks Ave 18 S Park Ave 346 N Orange Ave 26 S Park Ave 33 W New England Ave 51 E Welbourne Ave 12 N Park Ave 48 N Park Ave 90 S Park Ave 05 N Park Ave 29 N Park Ave 00 S Park Ave 11 E Lyman Ave 24 N Park Ave 55 E Morse Blvd 10 S Orlando Ave 15 E Lyman Ave 10 W Morse Blvd 76 S Orlando Ave
3 Shoes 108 E Canton Ave 2Rieker 3 Shoooz On Park Avenue 303 N Park Ave 8 19Specialty 1 li na Brandywine 400 N Park Ave ue10 AvenSquare Caro 2 Christian Science Reading Room 322 N Park Ave venue A L i n col n 14 3 e-tennis 2145 W Fairbanks Ave 4 Follett Bookstore at Rollins College 200 W Fairbanks Ave 15 5 frank 119 E Morse Blvd 1 2
300 University Blvd West 000 Holt Ave
338 E Lyman Ave
233 W Park Ave
2 18 2 1 All Saints Church of Winter Park 4 2 San Pedro Spiritual Development 17 Center * 6 Garfield 00 E New England Ave Religious
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560 N Orange Ave 25 W Canton Ave 14 S Park Ave 414 Gay Rd 43 W Park Ave 01 S New York Ave
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Canton Avenue Canton Canton Avenue 15
288 N Orange Ave
175 Lookout Pl 3586 Aloma Ave 122 S Park Ave 205 W Fairbanks Ave 147 W Lyman Ave 243 W Park Ave 1646 33rd St
Beyond Commercial * C Brenner Inc Fannie Hillman & Associates Fannie Hillman + Associates Keller Williams Winter Park Kelly Price & Company Owens Realty Services * Palmano Group Real Estate Brokerage Premier Sotheby's International Realty
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633 Osceola Ave 268 W New England Ave 231 N Interlachen Ave 445 N Park Ave 202 N Park Ave 307 S Park Ave 312 E Morse Blvd 711 N Orange Ave 200 W New England Ave
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Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens Axiom Fine Art Bach Festival Society of Winter Park Morse Museum of American Art Ocean Blue Galleries Passport Pop Up Gallery Scenic Boat Tour The Winter Park Playhouse Winter Park History Museum
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Winter Park Publishing Company, LLC
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SHOPPING & DINING Blu On The Avenue Blue Lobster Cobb, with Maine lobster, Boston lettuce, tomatoes, English cucumber, domestic prosciutto and avocado bacon bleu cheese dressing. $20 326 South Park Avenue. 407.960.3778 bluontheavenue.com
Dear Jane Super soft and supple, mauve sheared mink is perfect for petites and plussize gals searching for a compact fur that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t add bulk or overwhelm. Spare details, including a standup collar, concealed pockets and discretely positioned hook-and-ring closures allow the spotlight to shine on the lush, plush pelted fur. It remains pristine perfect, thanks to the easy care option of machine wash/line dry. $156 329 North Park Avenue, Suite 105 407.951.8890 dearjanewinterpark.com
Grato Italian Kitchen Rigatoni a la Vodka with Pancetta-sauteed onions in a delicious vodka sauce. $17 528 South Park Avenue 407.636.7222 gratorestaurants.com
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Lilly Pulitzer Lilly Pulitzer sleep and loungewear takes the timeless bright colors and prints you know and makes them perfect for cuddling up and chilling out. Check out our matching mother-daughter outfits. $88 114-118 North Park Avenue 407.539.2324 lillypulitzer.com
Current by John Craig The coziest sweater ever in herringbone grey. $145 132 South Park Avenue 407.629.7944 currentmen.com
John Craig Clothier Beautifully handcrafted belts in a variety of materials, hand-cut to fit. $250 - $1,400 132 South Park Avenue 407.629.7944 johncraigclothier.com
Maureen Hall Invitations We are an exquisite paper boutique on Park Avenue nestled in Greeneda Court. Hand-painted animal-print folded notes in various designs. $22 116 South Park Avenue, Suite D 407. 629.6999 maureenhallinvitations.com
New General Crepes! Sweet and savory option, gluten free and vegan — all with thoughtful house-made fillings! $12 155 East New England Avenue 646.773.9421 newgeneral.us
Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant Buy a pitcher of Sangria or a bottle of wine and get a free bruschetta. Offer good Friday through Sunday. 216 South Park Avenue 407.629.7270 pannullos.com
Park Plaza Hotel Give the gift of a night in the beautiful Park Plaza Hotel! Treat yourself, your family or friends. Complimentary continental breakfast served in your bed or on your balcony. Also available, some Park Plaza Hotel goodies—including robes, hats and dog leashes. Something for everyone! $100 gift card 307 South Park Avenue 407.647.1072 parkplazahotel.com
310 Park South California Chicken Salad Sandwich, with house-made chicken salad, everything seasoning, avocado smash, field greens, tomato and bacon, served on a croissant. $12 310 South Park Avenue 407.647.7277 310restaurant.com
The Ancient Olive
The Partridge Tree Gift Shop Simmons Jewelers 1.50 ct. ruby and diamond necklace set in white gold. $2,750 Simmons Jewelers 220 North Park Avenue 407.720.4242 simmonsjewelers.com
The Lampe Berger is a functional and attractive catalytic lamp, purifying indoor air and adding an elegant or contemporary touch to every home. Additional fragrances are sold in-store. $40 The Partridge Tree Gift Shop 316 South Park Avenue 407.645.4788 thepartridgetree.com
Handcrafted platters made from a private acquisition of 40 Jim Beam Bourbon barrels from Kentucky. After months of drying, planing and sanding, we are offering for purchase these unique collector’s items, crafted from American oak. Quantities are limited -- less than 60 were produced. $300 324 North Park Avenue 321.972.1899 theancientolive.com
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ORDER TODAY THROUGH AMAZON.COM OR ROLLINSSHOP.COM (THE ROLLINS COLLEGE BOOKSTORE) All proceeds benefit the Hamilton Holt School, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary as a degree-granting program.
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With the high number of COVID-19 cases that Florida has seen, this is a question I have been getting asked a lot. The answer depends on two things: your dentist and your comfort level. At Park Smiles, our first core value is to always do the right thing. In this case, that means going above and beyond what’s required to keep you safe. Below, you’ll find a list of just some of the changes we’ve made since reopening:
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• 7 a.m. appointments for high-risk individuals • Virtual check-ins from your car • Mandatory temperature screenings • Anti-viral mouth rinse • Air purifiers • COVID-19 screening questions • N95 masks and face shields Nothing is as safe as staying home, but you can feel comfortable knowing that you’re as safe as possible returning to the dentist. To date, there’ve been no known COVID-19 outbreaks in a dental office setting. We need to remain as cautious as possible, while keeping in mind that a healthy mouth leads to a healthy body. Ignoring dental problems can often lead to more serious health issues, weakening the immune system. Most of our patients have already returned — but you shouldn’t return until you personally feel comfortable. When that time comes, we’ll be here for you. You can call or text (407) 645-4645 or schedule at DentistWinterPark.com.
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EVENTS ART, HISTORY, ENTERTAINMENT AND MORE
HER EYES WERE WATCHING GOD
ZORA NEALE HURSTON COMES HOME AGAIN FOR ANNUAL FESTIVAL. The annual ZORA! Festival celebrates the life of Eatonville’s most famous resident — novelist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960). Hurston immortalized her childhood home in Their Eyes Were Watching God, a 1937 novel, and Dust Tracks on a Road, her classic 1942 autobiography. This year, for the first time in its storied 32-year history, the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community Inc.’s annual event (known more formally as the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities) will combine in-person and online programming. Billed as a “hybrid special event,” the 2021 festival, which runs January 7 through 31, incorporates CDC-recommended health and safety precautions while entering the brave new cybercultural world of this year’s theme: “Afrofuturism: What is its Sound?” Hurston’s accomplishments certainly warrant a festival. She also wrote such books as Jonah’s Gourd Vine (1933), Mules and Men (1935), Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica (1938) and Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939) as well as at least 50 short stories, plays and essays. Her manuscript Every Tongue Got to Confess, a collection of folktales gathered in the 1920s, was published posthumously in 2001 after being discovered in the Smithsonian Institute archives. During the festival, attendees are invited to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of historic Eatonville, tucked between Maitland and Winter Park, by attending small, in-person happenings. The celebration kicks off on January 7 with an in-person “Happy 130th Birthday, Zora” celebration at the Excellence Without Excuse (E-WE) Community Computer Arts Lab & Learning Center, located at 323 East Kennedy Boulevard. The get-together continues virtually in the evening with a “Global Birthday Party.” Attendees can also enjoy numerous webinars and community conversations featuring distinguished speakers. Dr. William A. “Sandy” Darity Jr., professor of public policy, economics and African and African American Studies at Duke University and co-author
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with folklorist Kirsten Mullen of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century (University of North Carolina Press), will lead a discussion on “Race and Economic Realities in 21st Century America.” Darity’s event, a virtual one, is slated for January 26. A two-day Afrofuturism conference, set for January 28 and 29, will feature Dr. Toniesha Taylor, associate professor of communication studies at Texas Southern University; Dr. Regina Bradley, assistant professor of English and African diaspora studies at Kennesaw State University; Dr. Erik Steinskog, associate professor of musicology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark; and Dr. Paul Ortiz, professor of history and director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. The discussion will be livestreamed on zora.org and limited in-person attendance will be allowed at the University of Central Florida’s Downtown Campus. Afrofuturism explores African-American themes and concerns in the context of 20th-century technoculture. In her recordings of oral histories and traditional music, Hurston was something of an Afrofuturism pioneer. There’ll also be docent-guided tours of Eatonville (January 9, 17, 30), a Jamaican-style vegan cooking demonstration (January 25) and a Women’s Economic Forum & Trade Expo (January 28). The grand finale — obviously an in-person event — is “Eating Extravaganza: A Taste of Eatonville” (January 30), which features stops at four Eatonville restaurants. An Afrofuturism-themed exhibit, A Past Unremembered: The Transformative Legacy of the Black Speculative Imagination, will be on display throughout the festival and beyond at the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, 344 East Kennedy Avenue in Eatonville. Hurston, born in Notasulga, Alabama, moved to Eatonville — founded in 1887 and celebrated today as being among the oldest incorporated black municipalities in the U.S. — as a young child and lived there until about the age of 14. She left to attend school in Jacksonville, graduated in 1918 from Morgan Acad-
emy in Baltimore and received her associate’s degree in English in 1920 from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She enrolled at New York City’s Barnard College in 1925, and was Barnard’s first Black graduate in 1928. A student of Franz Boas, generally considered to be the founder of modern American anthropology, she conducted anthropological fieldwork in Eatonville, gathering stories and songs when she returned to visit with family and friends. Hurston’s star dimmed after World War II; she died in relative obscurity and her body was buried in an unmarked grave in Fort Pierce. Today, thanks to the efforts of novelist Alice Walker (The Color Purple) and others, Hurston’s life is widely celebrated, and her literary work enjoys both popular and critical acclaim. Some ZORA! Festival events are free, some have small fees attached and some have locations that had not been determined at press time. Check zorafestival.org for the most up-to-date information and to register when required. —Scot French and Randy Noles
IN BRIEF WHAT: The Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities (ZORA! Festival) WHEN: January 7 through 30 WHERE: Eatonville and other locations WHY: To celebrate the life and work of folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, who lived in Eatonville as a girl and wrote about it in several of her works. Although there are still in-person events, much of the festival this year is virtual. HOW MUCH: Some activities are free, others require small fees. FOR MORE: zorafestival.org
Folkorist Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) immortalized Eatonville, her childhood home, in Their Eyes Were Watching God, a 1937 novel, and Dust Tracks on a Road, her 1942 autobiography. Hurston’s legacy is celebrated each year during Eatonville’s ZORA! Festival. W INTE R 2 0 2 1 | W INTER PARK MAGAZ IN E
EVENTS NOTE: Due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, venues may be closed or offering limited hours. Also, events are subject to cancellation and attendance capacities may be reduced. The dates and times in these listings are those of normal operation and will likely be different by the time this issue of Winter Park Magazine reaches homes. Some, in fact, had not fully reopened at press time, although they were planning to do so in the coming weeks. So please use the contact information provided and check in advance before making your plans. We also encourage you to anticipate that masks may be required, as well as observance of social distancing protocols.
Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. This lakeside museum, open since 1961, is dedicated to preserving works of the famed Czech sculptor for whom it was both home and studio for more than a decade. The museum offers tours of Polasek’s home Tuesdays through Saturdays. And it offers tours of the adjacent Capen-Showalter House three times weekly: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m., and Saturdays at 10:15 a.m. Built in 1885, the Capen-Showalter House was saved from demolition several years ago and floated across Lake Osceola to its current location on the Polasek’s grounds. The museum’s current exhibition, Revival, runs through April and features paintings, ceramics, prints and mixed media works by University of Central Florida Professor of Art Robert Reedy. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $3 for students and free for children. 633 Osceola Avenue, Winter Park. 407647-6294. polasek.org. Art & History Museums — Maitland. The Maitland Art Center, one of five museums that anchor the city’s Cultural Corridor, was founded as an art colony in 1937 by visionary artist and architect J. André Smith. The center, located at 231 West Packwood Avenue, Maitland, is Central Florida’s only National Historic Landmark and one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeast. Admission to the art center’s galleries is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students (ages 5 to 17) and free for children age 4 and under. Maitland residents receive a $1 discount. The Cultural Corridor also includes the Maitland Historical Museum and Telephone Museum at 221 West Packwood Avenue, and the Waterhouse Residence Museum and Carpentry Shop Museum, both built in the 1880s and located at 820 Lake Lily Drive. Opening February 4 at the art museum is Love & Compassion: Images of Mother & Child, a collection of works by Florida-based artists reflecting on the universal yet ever-changing concept of the motherchild relationship. 407-539-2181. artandhistory.org.
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Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. With more than 19,000 square feet of gallery and public space, the Morse houses the world’s most important collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany creations, including jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass and an entire chapel interior originally designed and built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. On March 2, a new exhibition will debut — a collection of watercolor studies of flora and fauna that served as guides for Tiffany when he created his distinctive enamel creations. The museum’s latest acquisition is an elaborate fireplace hood designed by Tiffany for his own home, now on view. Continuing through September is Portraits of Americans from the Morse Collection, featuring works by John Singer Sargent, Charles Hawthorne, Cecilia Beaux and other artists who guided portraiture into the age of photography with compelling works that captured not only the physical likeness of their subjects, but their innate character as well. Also on view is Iridescence — A Celebration, which runs through September 2021. The dazzling display features works in enamel, pottery and art glass that replicate the shimmering optical effects previously only found in nature. Regular admission to the museum is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $1 for students and free for children younger than age 12. At press time appointments were required for admission and hours were 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, but check the website for the most up-to-date information. 445 North Park Avenue, Winter Park. 407-645-5311. morsemuseum.org. Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Located on the campus of Rollins College, the Cornell houses one of the oldest and most eclectic collections of fine art in Florida. Continuing through May 2021 is The Place as Metaphor: Collection Conversations, an examination of the multiple meanings of place through diverse representations across time and region. New exhibitions include Rania Matar: On Either Side of the Window, Portraits During COVID-19, which features images of individuals in quarantines caused by the pandemic; Pushing the Envelope: Mail Art from the Archives of American Art, a collection of works by artists who eschewed the traditional circuit of museums and commercial galleries in favor of the more accessible space of mailable objects such as letters, postcards and packages; Drawing Connections: Inside the Minds of Italian Masters, which showcases drawings from the 16th to the 19th centuries; and ReOrienting the Gaze, which features works by contemporary Middle Eastern and North African artists who challenge past and present echoes of Orientalist thought. Guided tours take place at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at the nearby Alfond Inn, where a selection of more than 400 works in the museum’s Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art are on view. Happy Hour tours of the Alfond Collection are also conducted on the first Wednesday of most months at 5:30 p.m. If you prefer historic works, Throwback Thursday tours are offered at the museum from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of most months. Admission is free, courtesy
of PNC Financial Services Group. 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park. 407-646-2526. rollins.edu/cfam. Crealdé School of Art. Established in 1975, this not-for-profit arts organization on Winter Park’s east side offers year-round visual-arts classes for all ages, taught by more than 40 working artists. Visitors may take a self-guided tour through its lakeside sculpture garden, which includes approximately 60 threedimensional pieces of contemporary outdoor art and educational panels that describe the diversity of expressive styles and durable media. Opening January 29 is One World: International Women Artists of Florida, an invitational showcase of work by nine professional artists and Florida residents from different countries, each with a distinctive style that blends each woman’s love of her art form with influences from her country of origin and her life experience. The exhibition runs through May 8. Admission to the school’s galleries is free, although there are fees for art classes. 600 Saint Andrews Boulevard, Winter Park. 407-671-1886. crealde.org. Hannibal Square Heritage Center. Established in 2007 by the Crealdé School of Art in partnership with residents of Hannibal Square and the City of Winter Park, the center celebrates the city’s historically AfricanAmerican west side with archival photographs, original artwork and oral histories from longtime residents that are collectively known as the Heritage Collection. A new exhibition, Evolution of an Artist — Paintings and Sculptures That Tell a Story, features the work of Eatonville resident Jane Turner. Her work is deeply narrative, rich with themes of social justice and depictions of historic events blended with her experiences of life as an African-American woman. Also ongoing is the Hannibal Square Timeline, which documents significant local and national events in African-American history since the Emancipation Proclamation. The center also offers a walking tour of Hannibal Square, Now and Then, with Fairolyn Livingston, chief historian. The tour, offered on the third Saturday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m., requires reservations; the cost is $10, or $5 for those with student IDs. Historic sites include the Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, the Welbourne Avenue Nursery & Kindergarten and the Masonic Lodge, all built in the 1920s. 642 West New England Avenue, Winter Park. 407-539-2680. hannibalsquareheritagecenter.org.
Annie Russell Theatre. “The Annie,” in continuous operation at Rollins College since 1932, is celebrating women’s voices in its 88th season, with every production penned by a female playwright. The season continues with As It Is in Heaven (February 12 through 20), an amusing and insightful tale about religious fanaticism in 1830s’ Appalachia directed by Rollins alum Beth Lincks. Finally, there’s Legally Blonde: The Musical (April 16 through 24), the Broadway adaptation of 2001’s hit film about a seemingly superficial sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School. In order to
This exhibition is made possible through a generous gift from Wayne and Patricia Jones in honor of their 50th anniversary.
EVENTS maintain social distancing, these shows may be limited to members of the college community, patrons of the theater or other select groups. Curtain times are 8 p.m., 4 p.m. or 2 p.m., depending upon the day of the week. Individual tickets are $20. 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park. 407-646-2145. rollins.edu/annie-russell-theatre. Winter Park Playhouse. Winter Park’s only professional, nonprofit theater — which postponed its mainstage season last year — opens with A Grand Night for Singing (January 22 through February 20), a celebration of the classic compositions of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The season continues with Respect: A Musical Journey of Women (March 19 through April 24), Five Course Love (May 14 through June 13), Crazy for Gershwin (July 30 through August 22), The Book of Merman (September 24 through October 17) and Christmas My Way: A Sinatra Holiday Bash (November 12 through December 18). Performances are Thursdays through Sundays, with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets range in price from $20 for students to $45 for evening shows. 711 Orange Avenue, Winter Park. 407645-0145. winterparkplayhouse.org.
Enzian. This cozy, nonprofit alternative cinema offers a plethora of film series. Tickets are usually $12 for regular admission; $10 for matinees, students, seniors and military (with ID); and $9.50 for Enzian Film Society members. Children under age 12 are admitted free to Peanut Butter Matinee Family Films, shown the fourth Sunday of each month at noon. Other series include Saturday Matinee Classics (the second Saturday of each month at noon), Cult Classics (the second and last Tuesday of each month at 9:30 p.m.), and Midnight Movies (every Saturday night). FilmSlam, which spotlights Florida-made short films, takes place most months on the first or second Sunday at 1 p.m.; the next scheduled date is January 10. Check the website for a full schedule of titles and showtimes. 300 South Orlando Avenue, Maitland. 407-629-0054 (information line), 407-629-1088 (theater offices). enzian.org. Popcorn Flicks in the Park. The City of Winter Park and the Enzian collaborate to offer classic, familyfriendly films free in Central Park on Park Avenue. These outdoor screenings are typically held on the second Thursday of each month and start at 7 or 8 p.m. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and blankets or chairs. Advanced registration is requested to ensure proper social distancing. 407-629-1088. enzian.org.
Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum. This stunningly restored Spanish farmhouse-style home, designed by acclaimed architect James Gamble Rogers II, is now a community center and museum. Free open houses are hosted by docents on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Also, live music is featured in the large downstairs parlor most Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. At
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press time the tours had been postponed until further notice, but check the website for the most up-to-date information. 656 North Park Avenue (adjacent to the Winter Park Golf Course), Winter Park. 407-6288200. casafeliz.us. Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida. The center is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice, with the goal of developing a moral and just community through educational and cultural programs. It houses permanent and temporary exhibitions, archives and a research library. The museum’s ongoing exhibition, Tribute to the Holocaust, is a presentation of artifacts, videos, text, photographs and other works of art. Also ongoing is an exhibition of stunning images and powerful words captured in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis. Uprooting Prejudice: Faces of Change, showcases the work of renowned photographer John Nolter, who went to the scene of Floyd’s fatal encounter to capture the passion of the protestors who took to the streets in the tragedy’s aftermath. What he found was profound pain, resilience and a desire to bring the community together. Admission to the center is free, but at press time was limited to small groups with advance registrations. Check the website for the most up-to-date information. 851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland. 407-628-0555. holocaustedu.org. Winter Park History Museum. Travel back in time to the city’s earliest days with ongoing displays that include artifacts dating from its beginnings as a New England-style resort in the 1880s. The freshly refurbished museum will soon feature a new exhibition, Rollins College: The First 50 Years, which will showcase vintage photos of campus life, a re-created dorm room and other collegiate memorabilia. The date for the new exhibition had not been determined at press time, but in the meantime Wish You Were Here: The Hotels and Motels of Winter Park, has been extended. Admission is free. 200 West New England Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-2330. wphistory.org. Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts. Eatonville is strongly associated with Harlem Renaissance writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, who lived there as a girl and recorded her childhood memories in her classic autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road. The museum that bears her name provides information about the historic city and sponsors exhibitions featuring the works of African-American artists. Admission is free, though group tours require a reservation and are charged a fee. 227 East Kennedy Boulevard, Eatonville. 407647-3188. zoranealehurstonmuseum.com.
Morse Museum Wednesday Lecture Series. The Morse regularly invites recognized scholars in the field of late 19th- and early 20th-century art to speak on topics related to the museum’s collec-
tion and exhibitions. Lectures are at 2:30 p.m. in the Jeannette G. and Hugh F. McKean Pavilion, located behind the museum. At press time the series had been suspended, but check the website for the most up-to-date information. Admission is free. 161 West Canton Avenue. 407-645-5311. morsemuseum.org. University Club of Winter Park. Nestled among the oaks and palms at the north end of Park Avenue’s downtown shopping district — a block beyond Casa Feliz — is another historic James Gamble Rogers II building, this one home to the University Club of Winter Park. Members are dedicated to the enjoyment of intellectual activities and socializing with one another. The club’s various activities, including lectures, are open to the public, although nonmembers are asked to make a $5 donation each time they attend. (Some events include a buffet lunch for an added fee.) Check the website for an up-to-date schedule of events and speakers. 841 North Park Avenue. 407-644-6149. uclubwp.org.
86th Annual Bach Festival. The Bach Festival, not surprisingly, will look different this year. The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park was still tinkering with its schedule at press time, but here are the events that were scheduled as of late November. Several indoor concerts will be both live-streamed and in-person, with limited seating allowed: Spiritual Spaces, a program of classical music’s most reflective, restorative, elegant pieces, Knowles Memorial Chapel, time TBA (February 13); Organ and Violin Recital, by organist Ken Cowan and violinist Lisa Shihoten, Knowles Memorial Chapel, 3 p.m. (February 14); Bach Cantatas, Central Park’s West Meadow on Park Avenue, time TBA (February 20); American Spirituals & Folk Songs, featuring vocalist Kevin Deas, Central Park’s West Meadow on Park Avenue, 3 p.m. (February 21); Concertos from the Classic Era: Mozart, Haydn, J. C. Bach and Salieri, Knowles Memorial Chapel, 7:30 p.m. (February 26); Voces 8, an a cappella octet from the United Kingdom, Knowles Memorial Chapel, 7:30 p.m. (February 27); and Big Band Bach, a baroque brass ensemble, time and location TBA (February 28). Check bachfestival. org for the most up-to-date information. Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts. This eclectic venue is part concert hall, part recording studio and part art gallery. It offers live performances most evenings, with an emphasis on jazz, classical and world music — although theater, dance and spokenword presentations are sometimes on the schedule. Admission generally ranges from free to $25. As of press time all concerts were being held virtually, but check the website for the most up-to-date information. 1905 Kentucky Avenue, Winter Park. 407-6369951. bluebambooartcenter.com. Central Florida Folk. This Winter Park-based notfor-profit is dedicated to promoting and preserving live folk music, primarily through concerts usually held
on the last Sunday of each month (unless a holiday intervenes) at 2 p.m. The group’s primary venue is the Winter Park Public Library, 460 East New England Avenue. Live shows are expected to resume February 28 with guitarist Brooks Williams; other upcoming acts are to be determined. A donation of $15 for nonmembers is suggested. 407-679-6426. cffolk.org. Music at the Casa. The Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum presents acoustic performances on most Sunday afternoons from noon to 3 p.m. in the museum’s cozy main parlor. Past selections include opera, jazz guitar and flamenco dancers. A $5 donation is suggested. As of press time these performances had been postponed until further notice, but check the website for the most up-to-date information. 656 North Park Avenue (adjacent to the Winter Park Golf Course), Winter Park. 407-628-8200. casafeliz.us. Performing Arts of Maitland. This not-for-profit group works with the City of Maitland and other organizations to promote performances for and by local musicians. It supports various groups, including the Maitland Symphony Orchestra, Maitland Market Music, the Maitland Stage Band and the Baroque Chamber Orchestra. Check the website for the most up-to-date information. 407-339-5984, ext. 219. pamaitland.org.
TIFFANY at the MORSE The Morse Museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including his chapel interior from the 1893 Chicago world’s fair and art objects from his Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall.
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445 north park avenue winter park, florida 32789 (407) 645-5311 morsemuseum.org
Maitland Farmers’ Market. This year-round, openair market — held each Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — features fresh produce, seafood, breads and cheeses as well as plants, all-natural skin-care products and live music by Performing Arts of Maitland. The setting on Lake Lily boasts a boardwalk, jogging trails, a playground and picnic areas. 701 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland. itsmymaitland.com. Winter Park Farmers’ Market. The region’s busiest and arguably most popular farmers’ market is held every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. During the summer months, the market was held in the Central Park West Meadow, located at the corner of New York Avenue and Morse Boulevard, to allow for greater social distancing. However, it has now moved back to its usual location at the old railroad depot that also houses the Winter Park History Museum. The open-air market offers baked goods, produce, plants, honey, cheese, meat, flowers, crafts and other specialty items. After shopping, make a morning of it with a stroll along nearby Park Avenue. Dogs are welcome to bring their people. 200 West New England Avenue, Winter Park. cityofwinterpark.org.
A Winter PArk trAdition Since 1938 Climb aboard an excursion boat and enjoy a narrated one-hour cruise through the beautiful lakes and canals of historic Winter Park. You’ll see tropical birds, plants and magnificent mansions as well as Rollins College, Kraft Azalea Gardens and the Isle of Sicily. A must for more than 80 years!
Tours leave every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Christmas
Florida Writers Association. Join fellow scribes for lectures by guest speakers and discussions led by local authors. The Orlando/Winter Park-Area chapter meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the University Club of Winter Park, 841 North Park Avenue, Winter Park. The next scheduled event,
Adults: $14 • Children (2–11): $7 • Children under 2: Free 407-644-4056 East Morse Boulevard off Interlachen on Lake Osceola scenicboattours.com W INTE R 2 0 2 1 | W INTER PARK MAGAZ IN E
EVENTS slated for January 6, will be held online. Another chapter, the Maitland Writers Group, meets on the second Thursday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The next scheduled event is slated for January 14 at the Maitland Public Library, 501 South Maitland Avenue, Maitland. floridawriters.net.
March 5. Networking begins at 8 a.m. followed by a 45-minute program at 8:30 a.m. Admission, which includes a complimentary continental breakfast, is free. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org/ good-morning-winter-park.
Orlando Writers Critique Group. Writers gather under the guidance of author and writing coach Rik Feeney to review and critique their current works on the third Tuesday of each month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Winter Park Public Library. The next scheduled event, January 19, will be held online. 460 East New England Avenue, Winter Park. usabookcoach@ gmail.com, wppl.org.
Winter Park Professional Women. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these gatherings — held on the first Monday of most months from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — feature guest speakers and provide networking opportunities for women business owners. Topics revolve around leadership development, business growth and local initiatives of special interest to women. The next scheduled events are January 11, February 1 and March 1. Tickets, which include lunch, are $25 for chamber members and $50 for nonmembers. Reservations are required. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org/winter-park-professional-women.
Storytellers of Central Florida. Experienced and fledgling storytellers gather to share stories and practice their craft on the first Tuesday of each month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Winter Park Public Library. As of press time these events had been postponed until further notice, but check the website for the most up-to-date situation. Meetings are hosted by professional storyteller Madeline Pots. 460 East New England Avenue, Winter Park. 321439-6020, firstname.lastname@example.org, wppl.org. Wednesday Open Words. One of the area’s longest-running open-mic poetry nights happens every Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Austin’s Coffee, 929 West Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park. 407-975-3364. austinscoffee.com. Writers of Central Florida or Thereabouts. This group offers various free programs that attract writers of all stripes. Short Attention Span Storytelling Hour, a literary open-mic night, meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of most months. It’s for authors, poets, filmmakers, comedians, musicians, bloggers and others. Upcoming dates are January 13, February 10 and March 10. Orlando WordLab, a workshop that challenges writers to experiment with new techniques or methods, meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Upcoming dates are January 27, February 24 and March 24. At press time all events were being held online, but check the website for the most up-to-date information. meetup.com/writersof-central-florida-or-thereabouts, wppl.org.
BUSINESS At press time, it had not been determined if these events would be held in person with social distancing or moved online. Check each website for up-to-the-minute news. Good Morning Winter Park. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these monthly gatherings attract business- and civic-minded locals who enjoy coffee and conversation about community issues. Scheduled for the second Friday of most months, the next scheduled events are January 8, February 5 and
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Hot Seat Academy. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, this quarterly businessoriented series puts local executives in the spotlight as they offer advice and discuss entrepreneurism, leadership and sales-and-marketing techniques. The next scheduled gathering is January 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; check the website for information about the featured speaker. Tickets are $15 for members, $30 for nonmembers. Reservations are required. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org/hot-seat-academy.
Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. Among the oldest, largest and most prestigious juried outdoor art festivals in the U.S., the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival celebrates its 62nd year on March 19 through 21 by returning as an in-person event (it was cancelled last year due to COVID-19). The festival, which features more than 200 artists selected from more than 1,000 applicants, draws more than 300,000 visitors to Central Park on Park Avenue downtown. Participating artists compete for dozens of awards with tens of thousands of dollars in prize money at stake. In addition to works in a variety of media — painting, sculpture, photography, graphics, fiber, leather, wood, glass and jewelry — there are kid-friendly activities in the Children’s Workshop Village and an exhibition of student art from Orange County public and private schools. There are also dozens of food and drink concessions and live entertainment. Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. wpsaf.org. Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities. This popular series of events and exhibitions, now in its 32nd year, takes place mostly in Eatonville, where the namesake author and folklorist spent much of her childhood. Running January 7 to 31, this year’s festival will feature both in-person and virtual events. (See page 100 for more details.) Many events are free and open to the public. Zora Neale Hurston National Museum, 227 East Kennedy Boulevard, Eatonville. 407-647-3188. zorafestival.org.
Keep Winter Park Beautiful. Winter Park’s watersheds will stay beautiful all season long with selfdirected cleanups on the date and time of your choice. Litter grabbers, safety vests, gloves and garbage bags are provided at City Hall. Volunteers must contact email@example.com for more details and to complete a waiver. 407-599-3364. cityofwinterpark.eventbrite.com.
Winter Park Garden Club. The club’s general membership meetings always offer something intriguing for lovers of gardening and the great outdoors and are usually held on the second Wednesday of each month, September through May, at 10 a.m. Field trips and other community events are also held throughout the year. All meetings are at the club’s headquarters at 1300 South Denning Drive. For additional information about the club, which was founded in 1922, and upcoming programs, call 407644-5770, visit winterparkgardenclub.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
These events were still scheduled at press time. Check individual websites to make certain they have not been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. Unity Heritage Festival. This year’s 19th annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day promotes family history while raising funds for programs assisting economically disadvantaged youth. The event, which takes place on January 3 in Hannibal Square’s Shady Park, starts at 11 a.m., and features live music, concessions and various activities. Admission is free. 721 West New England Avenue, Winter Park. 407599-3334. cityofwinterpark.org.
Park Avenue 5K. The fourth race in the Track Shack Running Series, slated for January 16, starts and finishes on Park Avenue. In between, it winds its way for 3.1 miles through beautiful neighborhoods surrounding downtown Winter Park. The 5K race starts at 7:30 a.m. Registration is $33 through January 2, $38-$45 after that. Central Park, 251 South Park Avenue, Winter Park. 407-896-1160. trackshack.com. Run 4 Love 4 Mile. This February 13 run is for those in love with running or walking — or perhaps with one another. The 4-mile run or walk starts at 7:30 a.m., followed by a Kids’ Run at 9 a.m., a costume contest and awards presentations. Registration for this, the fifth race in the Track Shack Running Series, is $33 through
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Orientalism inspired artists and designers, including Louis Comfort Tiffany, in the late 19th- and early 20th centuries. Examples include a jewel box from Tiffany & Company
MORSE FILM SERIES EXPLORES ORIENTALISM The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is again offering free five-part films — its Brown Bag Matinee series — with the winter installment themed West Meets East. The films, slated for January and February, explore Orientalism, a late 19th- and early 20th century trend that inspired artists and designers of the period in Europe and America. The series is free, but space is limited and reservations are required through the museum’s website at morsemuseum.org/programsevents/friday-brown-bag-matinees.morse.org or call 407.645.5311, extension 115. All films, which run between 45 minutes and an hour, begin at noon. They’re shown at the McKean Pavilion (just behind the museum) and attendees are invited to bring a lunch. The museum will provide soft drinks. Following are the upcoming films to be streamed: The Ornament of the World (Part One), Friday, January 29; The Ornament of the World (Part Two), Friday, February 5; Hokusai: Old Man Crazy to Paint, Friday, February 12; Eugène Delacroix: From Paris to Morocco (Part One), Friday, February 19; and Eugène Delacroix: From Paris to Morocco (Part Two), Friday, February 26. All films begin at noon and visitors are invited to bring lunch.
January 30, $38-$45 after that date. Showalter East Field, 250 Perth Lane, Winter Park. trackshack.com. 44th Winter Park Road Race. This March 13 event, the final race of the annual Track Shack Running Series, includes a 10K (6.2-mile) race at 7:30 a.m., as well as a 2-mile race at 7 a.m. and a Kids’ Run at 9:15 a.m. Registration for the 10K is $40 through February 27, $45-$50 after that. Central Park, 251 South Park Avenue, Winter Park. trackshack.com.
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OUR TOWN | MICHAEL MCLEOD
JOHN RIVERS: FEEDING MANY NEEDS
“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’” —Genesis 1:29 When people refer to a matter of biblical proportions, it’s usually just figurative language. But when John Rivers quotes his favorite verse from Genesis these days, he makes it sound more like a blueprint, a plan just as real to him as the dirt beneath his feet. Best known in Winter Park for creating the 4 Rivers Smokehouse chain and for a range of charitable enterprises he calls his “barbecue ministry,” the plainspoken philanthropist-restauranteur is on a crusade to apply nuts and bolts to chapter and verse. “Growing food is the easy part,” he says. Rivers’ streamlined, back-to-basics campaign consists of educating young people about nutrition, creating a system to make fresh produce and healthy meals available to the needy, and localizing the food chain — particularly when it comes to produce. He finds it untenable, for example, that one in five Orange County schoolchildren are food insecure and 41 million people in the U.S. lack consistent access to food — yet 30 percent of the nation’s food supply goes to waste each year. The centerpiece of Rivers’ crusade is the 4Roots Farm & Agriculture Center, a back-to-basics urban farm, agricultural education and food-distribution cen-
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ter being developed on 38 acres just a few blocks away from Rivers’ first barbecue restaurant, which opened on Fairbanks Avenue in 2009. Donated by Dr. Phillips Charities to the 4R Foundation, the restaurant chain’s charitable arm, the tract is located in the Packing District development, a nascent, 200-acre community between College Park and Orange Blossom Trail. The campus will eventually include a YMCA, a park with a network of walking trails, 1 million square feet of office and retail space, and 3,500 residential units. The farm will feature raised beds, row crops, hydroponic growing systems and a range of regenerative farming practices. Produce will be sold to Orange County Public Schools for its school lunch program, while the education center will serve as a think tank and a resource for high school and college students interested in agricultural careers. Eventually a restaurant in the middle of the property will operate, literally, on a farm-to-table basis. Plans call for the farm campus to be up and running in 2021, but a warehouse on the property already serves as the base of operations for Feed the Need Florida, a 4Roots-led coalition of restaurants, hotels and hospitality organizations. Feed the Need teamed up with the Florida Department of Agriculture to provide more than 1 million meals to needy Floridians, including many of Orlando’s out-of-work entertainers and laid-off themepark employees. Rivers’ reverence for barbeque began when a 20-
year career in the healthcare industry took him to Texas, a mecca of the flavorful art form. Soon after resettling in Central Florida, he began refining his own pitmaster skills on smokers he welded himself in his garage. Even early on, Rivers’ entrepreneurial spirit and charitable instincts overlapped: The idea for the business evolved after he staged a series of fundraising feasts, the first on behalf of a family at his church that had been struggling with bills for a daughter’s cancer treatments. His interest in the educational side of his campaign took shape after Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins enrolled him to help with not only sourcing the school lunch program but educating students and their families about good nutrition. Through programs he established at Ocoee and Edgewater high schools, students who’d never seen a fresh vegetable outside of the produce aisle were growing them in gardens and hothouses on school grounds — and not only getting paid for their work, but enjoying the fruits (well, vegetables) of their labor as the produce was served in the cafeteria. Soon, 4Roots plans on taking over the space previously operated as a Subway sandwich restaurant on the first floor of the Orlando Science Center and transforming it into The 4Roots Café — which will feature a healthy-foods menu and exhibits, interactive videos with children in mind and activities highlighting global food issues. Rivers likes to emphasize the need for basic education about nutrition in a fast-food universe by telling the story of an Ocoee High School student who had proudly presented a head of lettuce from the school garden to her mother. Later, discovering that the lettuce had been tossed in the garbage, the astonished teen asked why. Replied her mother: “You told me it was in the dirt, so I threw it out.”
Michael McLeod, email@example.com, is a contributing writer for Winter Park Magazine and an adjunct instructor in the English department at Rollins College.
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The 4Roots Farm & Agriculture Center, conceptualized by restaurateur-philanthropist John Rivers (facing page), will feature raised beds, row crops and hydroponic growing systems. Produce will be sold to Orange County Public Schools for its school lunch program, while the education center will serve as a think tank and a resource for high school and college students interested in careers in agriculture. Eventually a restaurant in the middle of the property will operate, literally, on a farm-to-table basis.
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THE POEM | BILLY COLLINS
o many poems have been written on the subject of human mortality, you might think that death has become the magnetic north for the poets who write them. Its endurance as a theme has brought forth oodles of metaphors, all in the service of keeping the topic fresh. Last time I looked, Andrew Marvell remains the gold standard holder for his “Time’s wingéd chariot hurrying near.” This poem of mine adopts a quirkier approach. It reveals the limits of the common assumption that we will comfortably outlive the animals around us. That’s true for a while, and it’s the reason my father told me we were “buying a heartache” when I got my first dog. But some of us may live long enough to see the tables turned, as my speaker sees here. Plus, I was looking for an opportunity to use the word “labradoodle.”
PHOTO BY SUZANNAH GILMAN
Billy Collins is a former two-term U.S. poet laureate (2002-03) and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. “Life Expectancy” appears in his most recent collection, Whale Day: And Other Poems (Random House, 2020).
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LIFE EXPECTANCY On the morning of a birthday that ended in a zero, I was looking out at the garden when it occurred to me that the robin on her worm-hunt in the dewy grass had a good chance of outliving me, as did the worm itself for that matter if he managed to keep his worm-head down. It was not always like this. For decades, I could assume that I would be around longer than the squirrel dashing up a tree or the nightly raccoons in the garbage, longer than the barred owl on a branch, the ibis, the chicken, and the horse, longer than four deer in a clearing and every creature in the zoo except the African parrot and the big tortoise, whose cages I would hurry past. It was just then in my calculations that the cat padded noiselessly into the room, and it seemed reasonable, given her bright eyes and glossy coat, to picture her at my funeral, dressed all in black, as usual, which would nicely set off her red collar, some of the mourners might pause in their grieving to notice, as she found a place next to a labradoodle in a section of the church reserved for their kind.
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