Ocala Style | May 2022

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Women’s issue




Scenic two-story on 28 +/- Acres

10+ Acres - Gentleman’s Farm

Winding scenic drive leads to the two-story home situated on 28+/- acres. 4 Bedroom and 3 bath, generous formal living room, formal dining room, family room with oversized brick fireplace and extra-large windows to enjoy panoramic views of the property. Barn/equipment building features guest quarters. $2,750,000

This 5-bedroom, 3-bath home is located just minutes to premier shopping, dining, hospitals and a short distance to the World Equestrian Center and just off Hwy 200. Lit arena, 4-stall barn, 4 lush green paddocks plus 3-car covered open carport. $785,000

Just Reduced

13.75 +/- Acre Equestrian Estate

NW Ocala Equestrian Farm 50 +/- Acres

State-of-the-art equestrian sporting horse facility that has it all. 13+ Acres, main home with 3 bed/3.5 baths, gourmet kitchen, split floor plan, and 3-car garage. 24-Stall show stable, lush paddocks, plus apartment makes this farm perfect $1,800,000 for any breed.

Beautiful equestrian farm located in the prestigious NW Ocala area with scattered live oaks and lush green pastures. Main barn features 2,400 SF, including 4 offices, conference room and 14 oversized stalls. 2 additional barns for a total of 42 stalls. Owner is in the process of reducing the price. We will get that to you soon. $1,999,000

Our results speak for themselves. List with Joan today! For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and photos. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates and land available that are not advertised.

Just Listed

Just Listed

Custom-Built Palatial Chateau on 82 +/- Acres

136 +/- Acre State-of-the-Art Estate

Absolutely rare and hard to find custom-built Palatial Chateau on 82+/- beautiful acres. 4 Bed/4.5 baths, gourmet kitchen, formal dining, and spacious family room. 4-Car garage. 1/1 Guest quarters. Grand show stable with 18 stalls and 1/1 apartment. $9,105,000 Great NW location. Call for additional options.

136+/- Acre estate, incredible features, State-of-the Art Equine facilities. Professionally sculpted and architecturally designed main residence with 5 bed/ 4 bath overlooking your own private lake. The Inn offers 8 En suite bedrooms. 27-Stall stable, 5/8 +/- mile $12,100,000 synthetic cushion training track.


Purchase 40 , 42 or Your Choic8e2 +/- Acres


40 +/- Acres just minutes from WEC

42 +/- Acres just minutes from WEC

Located just minutes to World Equestrian Center – Frontage on Hwy 27 – Great Location! Opportunity to purchase 40 +/acres with 3/3 pool home plus 1/1 cabana. 18-Stall barn with office, full bath and tack room. Zoned A-1 with RL and MR $5,088,000 Land use.

Located just minutes to World Equestrian Center – Highway 27 frontage 42 +/- Acres includes pond, gated entrance, 20-stall barn, round pen plus open storage. Land is zoned A-1 with land use of Rural land and Rural Activity Center. Adjoin$4,231,000 ing acreage is also available.

If you’re considering buying or selling, give us a call at 352-266-9100 today!

Publisher’s Note


have heard the word passionate used many times to describe ambitious women. There are times, however, when the context of the word isn’t meant as a compliment. Instead, the implication is that the forward motion that propels these powerful women is nothing but flimsy, possibly unstable, sentimental emotion rather than the substantive qualities of bravery and persistence. If you are lucky enough to find something you can go “all in” on, something that excites you, your chances of operating at a higher level increase tremendously. And the harder the task, the greater the need for a deeper well of motivation. In the pages of this Women’s Issue, you will find stories of women who drew—and draw—from deep wells. Having started a newspaper, the Ocala Gazette, in the middle of a pandemic, because I so strongly feel that our community needs and deserves as strong a newspaper as those that are published in larger cities, I can relate to Mattie J. Shaw Cohens. When she became the first Black female in Florida to own and operate a newspaper, she described the FLORIDA WATCHMAN as a vehicle to improve her people “spiritually, intellectually, and along the lines of better health, better business and better citizenship.” And imagine the strengths it must have taken for Betty Mae Tiger Jumper to help craft the Seminole Tribal Constitution, creating the Seminole Tribe of Florida. She later became the first chairwoman of the tribe and helped unify other Southeastern tribal governments. Imagine the bravery it must have taken Ocala Fire Rescue Capt. Roseanne Moreland, the first female engine captain for the agency, to enter this field 33 years ago. There is no doubt she initially had to work harder than her male counterparts to prove she could meet the department’s demands and, in doing so, she opened the door for other women to follow. And who among us must have more heart to be impactful than those who are teaching school children? Ocala and Marion County are fortunate indeed to have Rookie Teacher of the Year Melinda Kimball and Teacher of the Year Leah Bender at the forefront of shaping our leaders of tomorrow. Like Oprah Winfrey says, “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” And you can call it passion, or moxie—but please do use the word as a compliment.

Jennifer Hunt Murty Publisher

Left: Josh Gonzales, Citizens First Bank. Right: Todd Coon, Tri-County Landscapes.

Do You Know Your Banker? Todd Coon of Tri-County Landscapes does! “Citizens First Bank offers a personal banking experience. The difference to me is the small town feel and knowing that I am more than just a number. I know when I call or go into any branch the treatment is the same across the board...very friendly and welcoming. Citizens First Bank and Josh Gonzales are a pleasure to work with.” - Todd Coon

President, Tri-County Landscapes

Make the switch to Citizens and get to know your Banker today!

Connect with us on Facebook!

www.MyCitizensFirst.com | 352-751-2020 BauerFinancial 5-Star Rated Bank, Since 2014

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Magnolia Media Company, LLC (352) 732-0073

1515 NE 22nd Avenue, Ocala, FL 34470

Art Editorial

GRAPHIC DESIGNER/ PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Lisa Maliff lisa.maliff@magnoliamediaco.com

PHOTOGRAPHERS Bruce Ackerman Corgi Photo Eighteenth Hour Photography Meagan Gumpert John Jernigan Ashley Nicole Johnson La Dichosa MAVEN Photo + Film Dave Miller Pamela Roberson Richard Rossetto Alan Youngblood ILLUSTRATOR David Vallejo


DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING Andrew Hinkle andrew@magnoliamediaco.com CLIENT SERVICES GURU Cheryl Specht cheryl@magnoliamediaco.com

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EDITOR IN CHIEF Susan Smiley-Height susan@magnoliamediaco.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Greg Hamilton greg@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Nick Steele nick@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Julie Garisto JoAnn Guidry Belea Keeney Scott Mitchell Jill Paglia Marian Rizzo Max Russell Dave Schlenker Nick Steele Leah Taylor Beth Whitehead


ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Evelyn Anderson evelyn@magnoliamediaco.com Sarah Belyeu sarah@magnoliamediaco.com Ralph Grandizio ralph@magnoliamediaco.com



7150 W. Highway 40, Ocala 34482 | TTDistributors.com


ADVANCED COMPREHENSIVE CARE FOR YOUR FEET AND ANKLES Treatment of Common Ailments such as Bunions, Hammertoes, Heel Pain, Sprains, Fractures, Athlete’s Foot, Ingrown Nails, Fungal Nails Sports Injuries Children’s Foot Care Custom Orthotics Diabetic Foot Care Warts Neuromas Ankle Pain Ulcers






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Distribution Rick Shaw

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Dr. Andrew Franklin, DPM, PHD DPM, PHD

Dr. Sheila Noroozi, FACFAS FACFAS

Dr. Kathleen Telusma, FACFAS AACFAS

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FamilyFootAnkle.org May ‘ 2 2


Sin ce



in this issue



ins ide r

f e a tu r e s



Dr. Marcas Bamman will speak in Ocala on May 19th.



The Florida Thorobred Fillies have long supported local charities.



Big weddings are back—and are bolder than ever.



Barrel racer Angel Rae Miller is continuing a family legacy.

48 52


Ocala’s Mattie J. Shaw Cohens was the first Black woman in Florida to own a newspaper and founded numerous charitable societies.



Betty Mae Tiger Jumper led a fascinating life.

Capt. Roseanne Moreland defines standards of excellence.









Critter chaos rules at the Schlenker Zoo and that is just fine.

Meet Marion County’s 2022 Golden Apple Rookie Teacher of the Year, Melinda Kimball.

vow s




Join us in celebrating local brides and grooms.



Jill Paglia shows how you can set a lovely tone and table with an intimate ladies’ luncheon.



Abstract artist Pamela Roberson is on a journey into that most subjective of art forms and is helping others along the way.

Leah Bender, Marion County’s 2022 Golden Apple Teacher of the Year, is known for compassion.

ON THE COVER: Angel Rae Miller riding Mother Of All Dragons Photo by: Alan Youngblood This page: photos, from left, by alan youngblood, dave miller and meagan gumpert

“ Peaceful, prestigious, & private treatment for those suffering from trauma and underlying self-defeating behaviors.

In network with most insurance providers. Conveniently located on Ft. King.

352-815-3911 | TheGuestHouseOcala.com


Social Scene Mermaid Nyla Humphries, along with other participants, helped promote ways to protect and preserve our natural waterways during the Florida SpringsFest event at Silver Springs State Park in early March. Photo by Richard Rossetto


Voices of PACE Luncheon



he annual luncheon to benefit the Pace Center for Girls— Marion was held February 23rd and featured moving testimonials from alumnae and current students as well as a presentation by State Attorney Bill Gladson.

Bill Gladson

PACE students

Carole Savage-Hagans

Florida SpringsFest SILVER SPRINGS STATE PARK Photos by Richard Rossetto

E Mermaid Juls, Julia Hendrix; DEP Park Ranger Amber Hatcher & her nieces; and the Mahi Mermaid, Jessica Griggs-Meyer

xhibits, vendors and even mermaids were on hand March 5th and 6th to talk about ways to promote, preserve and protect our natural springs. The event was organized by Silver Springs State Park, Cape Leisure and the Friends of Silver Springs State Park.

Chevy Fritz with young visitors



Marian Rizzo and Robert Knight

Clearwater Marine Rescue Aquarium exhibitors

“My mission is to serve, lead and inspire people who want to have a positive life experience as a result of the Real Estate business.” —Elisha Lopez, Broker/Owner

Elisha Lopez has over 22 years of experience alongside her husband Luis in real estate, with almost 11 of those years as a Broker. They are the founder‘s of the ORW School of Real Estate, which serves real estate students seeking licensure in Ocala, Marion County and all over Florida. In 2021, Elisha was named the worldwide ambassador for Realty World International Inc., the Newport Beach, California-based Real Estate franchise company with locations around the world, including Elisha‘s own, right here in Ocala. Contact us today and build the successful Real Estate career you want. Already licensed and ready to take your Real Estate career from where it is to where you have wanted it? Let's schedule a "right fit" meeting.

Become a Realtor ® - Classes starting soon! 2709 SW 27th Ave. Ocala, FL 34471 | 352-789-6746 | www.ocalarealtyworld.com

Photo by John Jernigan


International Women’s Day Celebration COLLEGE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA Photos by Bruce Ackerman

O Barbara Fitos, Edna Simmons and Manal Fakhoury

Beth McCall, Pam Escarcega, Angela Boone and Jessica McCune

llin Women International hosted a celebration March 8th to pay tribute to women in education, including Kim Burt, Simone Campbell, Loukeitha Daymon, Ronda Fox, Roseann Fricks, Jennifer Fryns, Mercie Dee Hagins, Lori Manresa, Ruth Reed, Julie Shealy, Julie Sieg, Edna Simmons and Judi Zanetti.

Lori Manresa and her daughter, Arielle

Stephanie Hill-Palmer, Loretta Jenkins and Audrietta Izlar

Expansion Grand Opening REILLY ARTS CENTER Photos by Bruce Ackerman


ll of the additions and renovations at the Reilly Arts Center were in the spotlight during a celebration on March 9th that included walk-throughs of the new classrooms, NOMA Black Box and Frank DeLuca Grand Lobby.

Clint Lewis, Angie Lewis, Jeannine Plummer and A.J. Merrill

Matthew Wardell, Frank DeLuca and Angela Grace



Lauren Debick, Kaitlyn Butler and Adam Volpe

Pamela Calero Wardell, Martha Steward and R.J. Jenkins

Stacey Schmidt- PA-C

Dr. Puja Kathrotiya

Anna Wilemon- LMA

Dr. Jessin Blossom

Allison Weber- APRN-C

Dr. Ashley Cauthen

Katie Keel- APRN-C

Colby Beck- PA-C

Casey Overturf- PA-C

CLINICAL, SURGICAL, COSMETIC & AESTHETIC DERMATOLOGY MidState Skin Institute is a state-of-the-art dermatology practice offering medical, surgical, cosmetic, and aesthetic dermatology services. It was opened in January 2013 by Dr. Ashley Cauthen and her husband Thomas. MidState is home to ten talented providers that can meet all your needs at one of our three Ocala locations. We believe high-quality medical care is achieved only through a trusting, doctor-patient relationship so we put great emphasis on empowering patients – with knowledge, tools, and support.





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3210 SW 33rd Rd, Ste 101 Ocala, FL 34474 352.470.0770


HUGS Fundraiser


H Linda Rains and Kay Rains

Amy Roberts and Hayley Rogers

UGS Charities Inc. hosted its 12th annual HUGS Fundraiser on March 31st, in memory of David “Duder” Tuck, a community member and volunteer observer for the Marion County Sheriff ’s Office Aviation Unit and for whom the K-9 Duder is named.

Lori Cotton and Steve Tweedle

Dustin Tuck, Whitney Griffith, Dr. Vipul Patel and Danielle Hampy

Amber Toole Sanford and Barbara Ross

Ignite Luncheon

COLLEGE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA Photos by Maven Photo + Film

M Back row left to right: Lina Piedrahita, Jeanne Henningsen, Kathryn Beecher, Melinda Freeman, Andrea Bailey, Beth Nelson, Dr. Jennifer Fryns. Front row left to right: Stephanie Burns, Christie Casey, Dr. Manal Fakhoury, Jennifer Hallermeier, Karen Hatch

Check donation photo courtesy of Ignite.



ore than 200 attendees helped raise money on March 10th for Project Hope, a nonprofit that supports homeless women and their children, and honored businessman and philanthropist Frank DeLuca. On April 13th, $62,000 was donated to Project Hope.

Frank DeLuca

Jeanne Henningsen, Ben Marciano


MAY 15 – JULY 15

EARN THE POINTS for travel, lodging, dining, and entertainment when you buy with your CAMPUS Platinum Rewards Mastercard® PLUS, earn 10,000 bonus points when you make $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days!

Apply online for fast approval at campuscu.com Call 352-237-9060 and press 5 Visit campuscu.com to find a CAMPUS Service Center near you

Membership is open to anyone in Alachua, Marion, Lake, Levy, and Sumter counties.1 There are costs associated with the use of this card. For specific information call 800-367-6440 or write us at P.O. Box 147029, Gainesville, FL 32614. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may vary with the market based on Prime Rate as published in the Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the last day of each calendar month. The APR is determined by adding together the index and the margin applicable to the card type and the consumer’s credit. The APR could change without notice. APR not to exceed 17.99%. Bonus CURewards points are eligible for Lodging, Travel, Dining, and Entertainment purchases from May 15, 2022 through July 15, 2022. Points on all other purchases and balance transfers will continue to accrue at one point for every dollar spent. CAMPUS USA Credit Union shall determine which purchases qualify and will not be responsible for merchant misclassifications. Points will be posted to your account at the close of each billing cycle. Cash advances and finance charges do not earn points. Mastercard and the Mastercard Brand Mark are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated, used pursuant to a license. 1. Credit approval and initial deposit of $5 required. Insured by the NCUA.


Ocala welcomes our

Olympic Champions

Hometown heroes showered with honors in Ocala. By Susan Smiley-Height | Photos by Bruce Ackerman

E Erin Jackson, Brittany Bowe and Joey Mantia

Davida Randolph, Narvella Haynes and Erin Jackson

rin Jackson has fond memories of being a “nerdy” student and Skate Mania “rink rat.” Brittany Bowe was “always in the gym” when her father was the basketball coach for Belleview High School. Joey Mantia recalls strapping on inline skates and taking “to the streets of Ocala at 2am with no traffic.” The long-track speed skating Olympians were back in town in March for a slew of celebrations in honor of Jackson becoming the first Black American woman to win a Winter Olympic gold medal in an individual event and Bowe and Mantia winning bronze medals during the games in Beijing. Jackson initially failed to make the cut in her signature event, but Bowe gave up her spot in the 500-meter race so her friend could compete. The three also have long lists of wins in world championships and other competitions. They live and train in Utah, but it all started in Ocala. Mantia, Bowe and Jackson graduated from Vanguard High School, Trinity Catholic High and Forest High School, respectively. Among the local events were visits to their alma maters, a ceremony at the Howard Academy Community Center to induct Jackson into the Black History Museum of Marion County, a luncheon with students at the College of Central Florida (CF) and a parade. Mary Sue Rich, the first Black female city council member in Ocala, told Jackson, “I understand the importance of being the first in your field and the responsibility that carries. Do not let the gravity of that title

Joey Mantia, Erin Jackson and Brittany Bowe



Erin Jackson

Erin Jackson, Joey Mantia and Brittany Bowe


Whitfield Jenkins, Eric Cummings, Yvonne Hayes Hinson, Joey Mantia, Erin Jackson and Brittany Bowe

Jennifer Prosser and Bailey Popp

weigh you down, but understand that it will inspire a new generation of athletes who will embrace your legacy. You have broken barriers and placed a spotlight on our city. We hope you feel the love and support of this community, all three of you.” “Thank you so much,” Jackson said. “Being here and seeing everyone come out in support and all the presentations, it’s been amazing. It’s an honor.” At the college, Bowe, Jackson and Mantia were each seated with middle, high school and CF students and fielded questions from the young men and women in a quiet manner before nursing student Dominique Gandiongco led an open Q&A session. Francine Julius Edwards, on the planning committee for the welcome home events, said she wanted to include the young Ocalans in the luncheon because, “We want to have our children inspired to do better in school and it’s important to have mentors.” Joshua Moore, a senior at Vanguard High, sat with Bowe. “I got to learn about Brittany and that we all are going through the same situations at school and we all have a specific goal we are trying to achieve,” he said. “It was a great experience.” As for what inspires the Olympians, Bowe offered: “Being victorious is one of the best feelings in the world but being here in Ocala sharing it with so many people is what makes it really special.”

Erin Jackson, Kathy Judkins, Joey Mantia and Brittany Bowe

Mayor Kent Guinn and Brittany Bowe

Joey Mantia, Tatiana Matthews and Cedric Maxwell

Eric Cummings and Erin Jackson

May ‘ 2 2


Through November 6, 2022

Invented Observations Photographs by Steven Benson

Appleton Museum, Artspace and Store

Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd. | AppletonMuseum.org


-an equal opportunity college-

Host your next event on the grounds of our beautiful

Vintage Farm. Now taking

23! 0 2 r o f bookings

Weddings, Corporate Events, Reunions and More

Our professional team is ready to assist you in planning your next event. For packages, amenities and booking information, visit


Conference Services

352-291-4441 • CF.edu/VintageBarn • VintageBarn@cf.edu –an equal opportunity college–



On the Scene A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events

Friday Art Walk 1 First Downtown Ocala

6-9pm Stroll the square and enjoy the charm of downtown Ocala while taking in artists’ displays, live music, extended shopping hours and art activities. Free and open to the public. This is the final Art Walk of this season; the festivities resume in September. Visit ocalafl.org/artwalk for more information.

the 4th Be With You - Star Wars 4 May Episode IV: A New Hope Marion Theatre

In celebration of the 45th anniversary of the release of the first of the Star Wars films, the Marion Theatre is having a party at Docking Bay 94 (the parking lot) with themed cocktails and live music from Mike Abbott playing all the hits from Mos Eisley (and Earth). A Star Wars trivia game at 7pm will be followed by the movie that started this worldwide phenomenon: “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” More info at reillyartscenter.com/events/may-the4th-be-with-you/

AMP Ocala Music Series 6 Levitt (also May 13 and 20)

Webb Field, MLK Recreation Complex

Free music concerts sponsored by the City of Ocala and Marion Cultural Alliance. Artists will display their works, nonprofits will share their missions and food vendors will offer tasty treats. Performers this month are: Indigenous (blues) on May 6th; The Bryne Brothers (Celtic) on May 13th; and The Drifters featuring Rick Sheppard (R&B/soul) on May 20th. For more info, check out facebook.com/ levittampocala

of the Library Quarterly Book Sale 6 Friends Headquarters Ocala Public Library

This quarterly fundraiser on May 6th and 7th lets you browse for books and help the Friends of the Library nonprofit. Paperbacks will sell for a quarter; hardbacks sell for 50 cents. Note: members only on Friday; open to the general public on Saturday. For more info, check out friendsoftheocalalibrary.org


Festivals of Speed Car Show World Equestrian Center

On Friday, May 6th, the Ultimate Kentucky Derby Party will include vehicles on display, a hat contest and fine culinary and beverage offerings. On Saturday, May 7th, more than 200 exotic, classic and muscle cars will be on display. Tickets range from $20 for general admission to VIP experiences. See the list at festivalsofspeed.com for more info.

Feathered Horse Classic 6 Ocala World Equestrian Center

Gypsy Vanners are fairy tale horses with their elegant coloring, long feathered feet and flowing manes and tales. This show from May 6th to 8th offers halter, driving, dressage, trail, liberty and even a costume class, Concours D’Elegance Exhibition, in which horses (and riders) dress in Victorian and Edwardian elegance and audience participation helps pick the winner. Free and open to the public. See featheredhorseclassic.com or worldequestriancenter. com for more info. May ‘ 2 2


ower Festival 7 Sunfl Coon Hollo Farm, just north of McIntosh

Head out to the farm and enjoy Coon Hollo’s Sunflower Festival on weekends from May 7th-8th to 21st-22nd. Take a hayride to feed the cows, enjoy the petting zoo and browse through Nana’s Country Store for goodies and farm fresh delights. Vendor booths, farm animals and lots of sunflowers. Visit coonhollo.com to learn more.

and the Beast 12 Beauty Ocala Civic Theatre

This classic fairy tale comes to life as Belle enchants her Beast and love prevails. The live onstage version of the beloved Disney movie will feature all of the songs from the movie, along with added hits, dazzling costumes and gorgeous production. Performances are Thursdays-Sundays; show runs through June 5th. Times vary. For more info, ocalacivictheatre.com


Symphony Under the Stars Ocala Golf Club

Hosted by Fine Arts For Ocala, this annual Mother’s Day tradition features music, food trucks and fireworks. Enjoy a spring evening listening to the Ocala Symphony Orchestra. Chairs, blankets and picnic baskets are permitted. Learn more at fafo.org

at the Reilly 14 Artrageous Reilly Arts Center

This unique performance mixes fine art, live music, singing, dancing, humor and interaction in a colorful whirl of movement and creation. A troupe of 12 artists, singers, dancers and musicians work and play together to create new art pieces and encourage audience participation. Suitable for all ages; get tickets from reaillyartscenter.com

Festival, Pancake Breakfast and 14 Blueberry 5K Run/Walk World Equestrian Center

Disney’s magical musical

Burn up some calories doing the 5K run/walk looping through the grounds of the World Equestrian Center, then wolf down some calories at the blueberry pancake breakfast near Arena 4. The festival includes a farmer’s market, blueberry specialties, live music, games and more. The 5K and breakfast require tickets; the festival is free and open to the public. See worldequestriancenter.com/events for more info.

Cutting Horse Association Show 20 Florida Florida Horse Park

live on stage may 12 - june 5 $30 for adults

$15 for 18 and younger

SPONSORED BY K-Country Ocala Gazette Tallen Builders 4337 E. Silver Springs BLVD. Ocala, Fl 34470 (352) 236—2274 Ocalacivictheatre.com



Some of Florida’s top cutting horses put their hooves down and run cattle from May 20th-24th. Once the cow is cut, the rider drops the reins and the horse does all the work. Vendors and food trucks. For more info, floridacuttinghorseassociation.com or flhorsepark.com

Series: Mindful Music 20 Leaf Sholom Park

Get your mellow mindfulness going with this unique experience in the peaceful setting of Sholom Park. Kellyan Binkowski is a musician, Reiki practitioner, mediation and mindfulness teacher. Absorb the healing power of music, sound and vibration with flutes, chakra toning and mantras. $5; advance registration required at sholompark.org

Latino 21 Festival Ocala Citizens’ Circle

This free festival celebrates Latin culture, food, music and more. Entertainers, crafts and vendors. Check out Eventbrite.com/e/festival-latinodowntown-ocala-tickets-238777539047

Tampa 22 Opera Circle Square Cultural Center

The resident company at the Straz Center for Performing Arts in Tampa will perform arias from favorite operas, along with popular Broadway songs. Go to csculturalcenter.com

American Club Dance 22 German Citrus Hills Golf & Country Club, Hernando

The German American Club of West Central Florida is holding an anniversary dance from 1-5pm at the Citrus Hills Golf & Country Club. Tickets are $38. To learn more, call (352) 419-6379.


Replant Day West Ocala Wellness Community Garden, 2200 W Highway 40

Planting season is on! Start some warm season vegetables, learn to solarize beds and help the community garden start and maintain fresh crops. Rent a plot for $10 at ocalafl.org/garden

Global Jazz Collective 27 The Reilly Arts Center, NOMA Black Box

The Global Jazz Collective combines funk and bebop. The group is led by UF Director of Jazz Studies Scott Wilson and Latin Grammy Award winner and UF head of Music Business and Entrepreneurship Jose Valentino. For more info, reaillyartscenter.com


Our breathtaking venue began life in 1939 as the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant. Now with an all new modern interior, NOMA Gallery is the perfect spot for a “uniquely yours” wedding, bridal shower, graduation party, birthday celebration and more!

NEW LOWER RATE $750 FOR 4 HOURS Convenient on site parking

www.nomaocala.com May ‘ 2 2



Scan the QR code below to learn my personal story.


Top Lifestyle Producer

s a young college student in my native Massachusetts, I excelled in business courses but found my creative passion as a successful composer of music, which allowed me to make a difference in life and inspire others to follow their dreams. Growing up in the hustle and bustle of a big city, and graduating college as a busy and devoted wife and mother, all helped me develop many of the skills I needed to succeed in any realm. Now, I am a global real estate executive who offers extraordinary service to help every client reach his or her goals. Whether you are listing a property or searching for the perfect dream home, you are in the hands of an

expert. I am dedicated to building relationships and accomplishing the impossible for others. My husband, two children and I are now are happy to call Ocala home. There are endless possibilities for every lifestyle here, including in the real estate market. Some of my successful listings included an elegant one-bedroom condo unit in our vibrant downtown area and a truly iconic 900+-acre horse farm in the rolling hills of the Horse Capital of the World. And to me, it’s all about viewing luxury as a level of service, not a price point. As your luxury lifestyle top producer, it would be my honor to be your go-to real estate agent locally or globally.

Tasha Osbourne | Premier Sotheby’s International Realty | Tasha.osbourne@gmail.com | (352) 613-6613

Luxury Homes & Equestrian Group Represents



13337 Kirby Smith Road, Central Florida This private, one-of-a-kind estate has 300 ft of waterfront on 4.22 pristine acres and feels like you are living in a five-star resort. Designed to maximize views from every room, this home will exceed all of your expectations. Offering 9,609 interior square feet and 15,573 total square feet with outdoor living, the home boasts 5 bedrooms, 7.5 baths with custom finishes handpicked from all over the world.

5350 SE 212 Court, Morriston, FL 32668 110-acre Spanish-style architecture training center. Fantastic opportunity to purchase a 110-acre horse farm located right in the heart of the Horse Capital of the World. [Photos supplied.]

7930 NW 17 Circle, Ocala, FL 34475 Luxury at its finest. Featuring a gorgeous 5 bedroom 5.5 bathroom home. Captivating, landscaped property with breathtaking views and fiber optic internet. Boasting an array of unparalleled curated beauty with all the finest modern touches, nestled on an oversized landscaped lot with a three-car garage.


Resilience and Performance IHMC Lecture Series will feature noted research scientist Dr. Marcas Bamman. By Susan Smiley-Height

Photo courtesy of IHMC


and translational reis early days as a search to advance human young athlete in health, resilience and his hometown of performance from elite St. Louis, Missouri may performers to those with have piqued Dr. Marcas chronic diseases. Bamman’s interest in He says the greatest the human body and rewards of his career the science of exercise. have come from serving He recalls spending as as a mentor and “preparmuch time outside as he ing the next generation could back then, mostly of scientists.” playing sports and riding “Being a scientist is a his bike. privilege because we get His curiosity also paid to ask important drew him into education questions that will change and he later attended how we approach disease Kansas State University and the human condition,” on an academic scholhe notes. arship, with emphasis In 2020, Bamman on the exercise science joined the Institute for program and studies in Human and Machine nutrition, chemistry, bioCognition (IHMC) as a chemistry and biology. senior research scientist. “That was my first He is based at the IHMC exposure to research, as campus in Pensacola. a student lab tech for a Being a scientist is a On May 19th, he will be couple of professors and privilege because we get paid the guest speaker for the as a teaching assistant IHMC Lecture Series at in physiology courses, to ask important questions the venue in Ocala. learning and teaching that will change how we Bamman says the pillars at the same time,” he of IHMC include artificial shares. “I then got my approach disease and the intelligence, robotics and master’s at the University human condition. healthspan, resilience and of Alabama Birmingham - Dr. Marcas Bamman performance, “which is the (UAB) and doctorate at most biologically focused the University of Florida. human research program.” Toward the end of my He says he is eager to speak about how the latter prodoctoral training, I spent three years with NASA gram has grown, the primary areas of research being at the Johnson Space Center, exploring space conducted and some of the results. physiology and trying to help develop ways to reduce some of the negative effects of space flight, The lecture, which will take place at 15 SE Osceola including loss of muscle and strength.” Ave., will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m. SeatBamman returned to UAB, where for 25 years ing will be limited to accommodate social distanche served as a professor and research center diing. To learn more, go to www.ihmc.us/lectures. rector. His career history includes leading clinical


A Community of Friends This local horsewomen’s friendship club has been raising money for local charities since 1962. By Beth Whitehead | Photograph by Bruce Ackerman From left, Natalie Schoepf, treasurer; Nancy Moffatt, member; Tammy Gantt, president; and Sonja Haught, second vice president, with Champ, from the Horse Fever collection.


he heart monitor did its job, but it was the sticker on the side, not the machine itself, that warmed the patient’s heart. The sticker read “Donated by Florida Thorobred Fillies” and, as the patient recognized her friendship club, the stress of the hospital stay wore off a little. This is the type of story that Tammy A. Gantt, president of the Florida Thorobred Fillies, loves to tell. Florida Thorobred Fillies is a club for women in the equine industry, and members focus on cultivating a community of friends who are dedicated to each other, to having fun and to raising money for worthy charities. “Our first Fillies meeting was September 11th, 1962,” Gantt says. Since then, members of the Florida Thorobred Fillies have been raising between $3,000 and $20,000 a year for charity. “We were one of the first groups to raise funds for the first Jaws of Life (a hydraulic rescue tool often used by first responders) for the county,” Gantt says, “and we raised funds for one of the first heart monitors for the Munroe Regional Medical Center (now AdventHealth Ocala).” The Fillies have raised money for two German shepherds, one for the Ocala Police Department and one for the Marion County Sherriff ’s Office and char-

ities including the Arnette House, Interfaith Emergency Services and others. The Fillies are known for their “famous cake table” fundraiser held at all the thoroughbred sales hosted through the year by the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company, Gantt says. “So, all the horse people across the country who come to buy horses at the OBS sale,” she says proudly, “they know us for the ladies cake table.” Some of the goodies are baked by local horsewomen such as Norma McKathan, whose sons trained the Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Gantt notes. The Fillies meet monthly and host two to three events a month outside of the regular meeting. “When the club was founded, it was $1.25 to attend a meeting,” Gantt shares. “The annual fee is now $30.” There currently are around 75 members, ranging from age 18 to 94. They take care of each other and maintain that if you have a strong community of like-minded people, you will be able to serve more effectively. “We always fall back to friendship first, fun and then fundraising, so we always make sure whatever we do always lifts everybody up,” Gantt says. For more information, email tammyagantt@gmail. com or find the group on Facebook.


A Seminole Legend Betty Mae Tiger Jumper’s amazing life is an inspiration for today’s young women.


ilver Springs State Park recently added an impressive wheelchair accessible glass-bottom boat to its fleet. This innovative craft is a first in Florida and allows anyone who uses a wheelchair to view the beautiful springs as countless visitors have done for decades. The boat is fittingly named the Chief Potackee – Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, after a trailblazer of a Seminole woman. Many Southeastern Native American cultures were, and still are, matrilineal. Societies that are organized around the female line are considered matriarchal. The Seminole and Miccosukee people of Florida are classic examples of the latter. Much of the cultural fabric of these tribes is organized around women. This means most property and clan affiliations for children (think extended families) pass through the woman’s side of the family. When a couple marries, the man moves in with the woman’s family. Family compounds or “camps” are typically built around the grandmother, with her daughters and their families living there as well. Men and women share important decisions both in the family and community. Betty Mae Tiger Jumper was born in 1923 into this culture and grew up in a Seminole camp near Lake Okeechobee. With few educational options in the Everglades, she attended the Cherokee Indian School in North Carolina and became the first Seminole person to graduate high school in 1945. She went on to complete nursing school and became the first tribal health director. In 1957, she helped craft the Seminole



Tribal Constitution, formally creating the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and was one of the original signers of the document. In 1967, she was elected as the first chairwoman of the tribe and became the highest ranking official. During this time, she helped unify other Southeastern tribal governments and was among the founders of the powerful United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) organization. Her administration also developed lease programs for some tribal lands and generated much-needed income for local improvements. Over the following decades, she helped create and became editor in chief of the tribal newspaper, The Seminole Tribune, became known as a talented seamstress and storyteller, wrote and published two books, A Seminole Legend: The Life of Betty Mae Tiger Jumper and Legends of the Seminoles and raised a family. When she passed away in 2011, the tribe and Florida lost a talented leader and educator. It is fitting the new glass-bottom boat that is specifically designed to help all people access the natural wonders of Silver Springs is named for her. The way Betty Mae Tiger Jumper lived her life is an inspiration. In a time when adversity was the norm for Native Americans, she not only overcame, she excelled. Moreover, she made lasting improvements to her community and she still serves as a role model for young women today. Scott Mitchell is a field archaeologist, scientific illustrator, and director of the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center.

Photo courtesy of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

By Scott Mitchell


Saturday, June 25, 2022 • 10am - 3pm College of Central Florida, Klein Center

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Critter Chaos By Dave Schlenker | Illustration by David Vallejo


write this column on a table shared by shredded newspaper particles. On a nearby rug, there is one smuggled sock, one stolen shoe and dog toys that include a sock monkey, two squeaky hedgehogs, one squeaky squirrel, three squeaky chicken legs and a bucket for the chicken legs, which, when turned upside down, looks like a Shriner’s fez. Update: Catniss Poundcake, a cat, is now walking toward me carrying one of the chicken legs. She is yowling like a code-red siren. In the room behind me is a crate the size of a shed lined with a pink Hannah Montana blanket. We call the crate “the cubby.” It also contains a toy dog dubbed Fake Mommy. Fake Mommy and Hannah Montana do, indeed, make the cubby more inviting for its nightly tenant, a large puppy named Rigby Floyd. As of this writing (mid-March), Rigby is more than 45 pounds at 6 months old. When I pick him up, I feel a quaking hernia ready to burst out of my gut. At this very second, Rigby—who also goes by “Big Floppy Monster” and “Get Down!”—is at my feet sighing dramatically. It is raining and he is overdue for his morning walk. I am avoiding eye contact because his big goldendoodle eyes could lure me into a thunderstorm. That face could win an Oscar. Catniss just dropped the chicken leg and fell asleep. Like Rigby, she gave up on me. On the couch next to her is Cargo, another cat, the thiev-

ing scamp who shreds the newspaper daily. “Aw,” I’ll tell my wife. “He’s a news consumer. Ha! Get it?” Amy gets it. Same joke every day. She, however, is more interested in removing the cat from the table. Forgive me for burying my lede, but it takes 350 words to set the scene at the Schlenker Zoo. This column is about pets and how dynamics change when you bring a pony-sized, deliriously happy “Big Floppy Monster” into a home already claimed by cats unwilling to share attention. Frankly, it has been a quiet morning. The circus usually starts in early afternoon when Rigby gets his bark on and, despite daily failed attempts, tries to play with the cats. He does this at full volume when Amy and I are on conference calls with clients and supervisors. But Rigby is determined to win over the cats by chasing and barking. The cats’ tails are the width of baseball bats, while Rigby’s tail is wagging wildly, his hammock-sized tongue dangling under a goofy grin. There are no grand epiphanies in these words. But know this: We adore this chaos. We are at least one animal over my desired limit, yet this zoo is essential to our family’s story. My guess is you can relate. Your stories likely are wilder than mine, and I would love to hear them. But for now, the rain has stopped and I must walk this year’s nominee for Best Actor in a Comedy Featuring Hedgehogs and Tattered Socks.

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Celebrate... You are cordially invited to celebrate Ocala’s newest brides and grooms, get a glimpse into their most special of days and hear firsthand about the memories that will always hold a place in their hearts. Pictured: Kayla and Brantley Daniel | Photographed by Brittany Strebbing with Eighteenth Hour Photography


KAYLA & BRANTLEY DANIEL January 7th, 2022 Venue: Casa Feliz Photographer: Brittany Strebbing with Eighteenth Hour Photography Professional Wedding Planner: Penny Baird of Blessed Magnolia Florist: Bluegrass Chic Weddings & Something Borrowed Blooms Hair: Paige Ehrhart with Styled by Paige Makeup: Ali Truluck with Truluck Studios Her favorite memory: “It is so hard to choose my favorite part because it all was perfect but I would say it was our private last dance. It was surreal to be alone sharing that special moment, which allowed us to take in the fact that we were married.” His favorite memory: “My favorite part was seeing Kayla walk down the aisle. There is nothing like standing there watching the most beautiful girl in the world walk towards you, knowing you will be with her forever.”

DASCHA & MOISES ROBINSON February 2nd, 2022 Venue: Indian Lake State Forest Photographer: Brittany Strebbing with Eighteenth Hour Photography Their favorite memory: “On our special day, we found our favorite part was how simple it turned out. Dascha’s aunt got ordained to marry us and flew in from North Carolina. It was short, sweet and simple, which is everything we could have asked for. We were surrounded by everyone we love.”


WHAT’S CHIC NOW? A fter a pandemic shut down large weddings for a couple of years, the “big day” is most certainly back and bolder than ever. B N S | P  L D | G   M L


edding experts forecast that some 2.5 million couples will tie the knot this year, which would be the highest number of weddings the U.S. has seen since 1984. And the wedding business is booming locally, which Camilla and Kayla Matthews of Making It Matthews, who specialize in designing and coordinating dream weddings, learned recently when they hosted a “Making Your Day” bridal social at the stylish, historic barn venue Protea Weddings & Events, just south of Ocala. Hundreds of guests sipped champagne and handcrafted drinks as they sampled food and desserts, chatted with beauty professionals, checked out the work of various floral designers, met with photographers and consulted vendors from a wide variety of specialties about all the aspects of creating their perfect day. “The response was amazing,” Camilla explains.

“We always have a jump in the number of wedding inquiries following New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day; however, this year we had a record number during the entire first quarter of the year. We are nearly fully booked for 2022 and our prime weekends are mostly all booked for 2023.” And we’re not talking about the intimate affairs that dominated the last few years because of COVID-19 restrictions. “Our couples are so excited to be socializing again that they are leaving no one off the guest list,” she asserts. “We’re getting requests for large celebrations with plenty of personal touches.” “The trend for the past 18 months has been ‘Go big or go home!’” reiterates Mary Weaver, the owner of Floral Architecture, who is known for her innovative florals for weddings and events. “It's been wild.”

The silhouettes that are trending are grand scene-stealers and bridal designers are incorporating lots of color and some modern floral motifs into their collections.

Gown by Monique L huillier

Right: photo by La Dichosa

Hue and I While Weaver says traditional green and white color schemes and the boho trend are still going strong, many couples are wanting to break free of cookie-cutter weddings. “What’s most exciting for us is that bold colors are coming back,” she offers. “And there’s a lot of out-of-the-box thinking regarding style and design.” Weaver reveals that some of that thinking includes mid-century modern design elements and the push for “lots of greenery,” elaborating that one of her recent projects was an “all greenery” wedding at Golden Ocala. Isn’t It Romantic Blame it on Bridgerton, but the “seen one and you’ve seen them all” lingerie-inspired wedding dresses—with lots of cutouts, transparent skirts and visible corsets that have dominated the last few seasons—are being swept off the scene by a fresh take on the ball gown. The silhouettes that are trending are grand scene-stealers and bridal designers are incorporating lots of color and some modern floral

motifs into their collections. “We absolutely love it!” proclaimed Brides magazine of the new shades for 2022 and the bold and statement-making silhouettes, which they describe as “show-stopping” but still allow the bride to express her individuality and personal taste. On the topic of tastemakers, Ocala’s own Bettina Looney, who currently lives in London—where she works as a fashion stylist and shopper, brand ambassador and consultant—inspired countless brides around the globe with her breathtaking wedding fashions and adventures. While she wore a delicate vintage A-line gown for the intimate ceremony at Sholom Park, where she and her husband, Carlos Segovia, exchanged their vows in front of their parents and her family here in Ocala, she staged an epic wedding weekend in Cape Town, South Africa that landed her in the pages of Harper’s Bazaar. Over the course of the weekend, Looney showed her deft fashion sense by styling herself and her bridal party in sumptuous dresses and gowns in an array of dreamy colors. Her custom wedding gown, a May ‘ 2 2


delicate silk tulle confection that featured an offthe-shoulder design, gathered bodice, voluminous sleeves and flowing skirt, made her a vision of contemporary grace. Looney chose to keep her accessories and makeup minimal, forgoing a traditional veil for a half-face net veil that elegantly framed her face and a flawless “natural” makeup look consisting of “a lashing of mascara, a swipe of nude eye color and a soft berry matte lip.” “We’re seeing more and more brides lean into clean beauty looks this year,” shares local hair and makeup artist Nicole “Nicci” Orio of Pretty n' Pinned, who is known for her luxury bridal services. “My favorite way to achieve this is by using luminous finish foundations, cream bronzers and powder setting mostly where you may catch a little bit of extra shine, like your T-zone. On the eyes, I love to use cream shadows to achieve a more dimensional feel that really compliments that understated vibe. Smudging your lash line instead of a harsh black liquid liner will also help achieve a more natural look that still makes the eyes pop.”

Left: Bettina Looney photo by La Dichosa

Diamond Life What can also make the eyes pop is the right engagement ring. Elegant and traditional are still the dominant themes in engagement rings and bridal jewelry, but recently there is a bit more variety regarding the mountings, gold colors and diamond shapes that couples are choosing. “Your round brilliant diamond is still number one,” offers Cammie McLeod, buyer, CEO and third-generation proprietor of Ocala’s esteemed downtown jewelry emporium Gause & Son Jewelers. “But oval, cushion and pear shape diamonds are trending. We are seeing more rose and yellow gold styles, where white gold is always your classic. Another trend is to wear two diamond wedding bands stacked or wearing one on either side of the engagement ring, which makes it fun and different.”

Gown by Halfpenny London

Gabriel & Co. at Gause& Son

Getting Personal What is apparent is that weddings are becoming less about tradition and more about personalization than ever. Industry insiders say couples are breaking with established conventions and the conservatism of the last few years, seeking new ways to put more “them” in their weddings. This can be anything from swapping out the traditional wedding cake for a dessert bar or ditching the bouquet toss to making more environmentally conscious choices. Couples are making choices based on what matters most to them and that’s something worth saying "I do" to. May ‘ 2 2


Angel Rae Miller with her horse, Mother Of All Dragons.


COWGIRL Angel Rae Miller is continuing a family legacy of success as a horse trainer and competitor.

By Susan Smiley-Height | Photography by Alan Youngblood


here may be 200 people in the arena stands, or 2,000, but they fade into the background as Angel Rae Miller’s horse prances into the staging area, twisting and turning and stirring up a cloud of dust. Miller focuses inwardly, silently or softly singing snippets from a worship song or other favorite to calm her busy mind. When it’s time to go barrel racing, she guides the horse into position and the duo bursts forward with what she calls “all guns a-blazin’.” That was the scenario several times for Miller and her mounts during the recent PacWest Barrel Racing event at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Ocala. The racing organization is run by Phyllis Torturo of Ocala and her daughter Nicole Torturo of Norman, Oklahoma. The April show was the first of five in the current series, which will wrap up in February 2023. Miller was born and raised in Davie, in south Florida. She comes from an extended family of cowboy and cowgirl world champions and halls of fame members, including her father, Norman Edwards; aunt, Darlene Fletcher; and uncle, Mike Fletcher. She says the first time she was on a horse was the day her mom, Phyllis, and her dad brought her home from the hospital and she was cradled in his arms while he was mounted. It wasn’t long before she was competing in classes in cutting, reining, roping and jumping. “But I have always felt the call of barrel racing,” she shares. Miller’s mom and dad moved their family to Shiloh, in northwest Marion County, about 20 years ago, where they established a campus that includes several homes and barns, her sister Callie Sue Edwards’ hair salon and The Church at Triple Cross. Today, Miller, 37, travels all over the country for top-level barrel racing competitions and con-

sistently is at the top of the scoreboards. In early April, she was listed in fourth place in the nation in earnings this year in the Divisional Southeastern Circuit of the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. She also is a member of the National Barrel Horse Association and says she enjoys competing with the Better Barrel Races and Barrel Futurities of America organizations as well as in local rodeo events. She specializes in training and racing futurity horses, which are those of a younger age. Her company, Fancy Fast Horses, in partnership with her aunt Darlene and friend Anna Acopian, has a presence in Shiloh (often referred to as Micanopy), Melbourne, Florida and Quitman, Texas. “I’ve been to the Pro Rodeo Southeastern Circuit Finals several times and barrel racing for rodeo, which is part of the Professional Cowboy Association,” Miller offers. “Rodeoing is fun and great, but I really love riding the baby horses and training and working with people to better connect with their horses. Basically, I’ll train a horse for a year and then compete on it for a year and, depending on its winning status, I may continue to run it, or the owner may decide to ride it. Most of the horses I ride belong to other people.” Miller does have her own equines, including her “best horse,” Mother Of All Dragons. “I competed on her full sibling a few years ago and won quite a bit of money on her all over the country and when Dragon came available, I just couldn’t stop myself,” she shares. “She’s a wild one, so one of my good friends named her a wild name.” Miller says many barrel racing horses are quarter horses, though some have “a little thoroughbred mixed in there. Dragon is an Appaloosa and is about 80 percent running quarter horse.” Barrel racing pits the horse and rider against

Angel Rae Miller riding Ivory Cash, owned by Rebecca Cunningham.

a time clock and they must complete a cloverleaf pattern that uses three barrels. There are penalties for knocking down a barrel. The racing divisions can range from open classes to age groups such as Pee Wees for the younger set and Masters for more mature riders. Miller says riders must make adjustments based on the arena in which they are competing. “Every single arena and every single pattern is different,” she notes, “based on the association and how they measure, not from each barrel, but from the fence.” She says when she erupts into an arena, “I just focus on getting to my first spot and doing my job, getting to the next spot and trying not to overthink it, which is very hard to do. You don’t want 42


to overanalyze it too much—you do that when you practice. When you run, you just go. The fastest one wins, so…there you go.” Callie Sue Edwards says her little sister’s barrel racing career “is so inspiring and influential, and she backs it up with a personality that is attractive and addictive. People naturally want to be around her smiling face and sassy attitude. She has worked so diligently her entire life. She is such a real cowgirl.” When Miller is on the road, her entourage often includes her son, Sean, 6, who brings along his schoolwork, her good friend Robyn Friesen, who helps with the horses and “everything” and “a squirrel, a mini pig and two dogs.” Miller’s husband, Chris, owns a trucking company. Over the years, Miller has had her share of spills

and injuries but says she still loves the rush of adrenaline when competing and the feeling of success when she helps an owner develop a bond with a horse. “You’ve got to learn a horse’s personality and sometimes it takes a minute,” she says. “You want a happy medium of proper discipline and proper reward, and a lot of times it gets very jumbled. You have to realize that the horse can feel it when a fly lands on it so if they can understand that and feel that, just the slightest movement of your body, even your hand, changes your posture and position. “No matter the discipline,” she adds, “whether its cutting horses or reining horses, they are all very similar as far as the less you do to have to force them to do it, it will be better and faster.” Phyllis Torturo, who says Miller is at “the top of the food chain” as a competitor, notes that they had more than 400 racers each day of the April 8th through 10th event. The grounds of the livestock pavilion were packed with horse trailers and RVs. Vendors under one side of the massive grandstands offered goods ranging from “a $10 piece of jewelry to a $10,000 saddle.” “This is an excellent facility and it’s very horse-friendly,” Torturo offers. “It’s a very homey feeling to this facility and we’re proud of that. We love putting on events here.” The PacWest events are free for spectators. They include male and female contestants, in all

Angel Rae Miller with Ivory Cash.

age groups. Torturo says they make an extra effort with the Pee Wees because “these little ones are the future.” And that is something Miller can relate to. “Pretty much my whole life has revolved around riding,” she recalls. “It was never pushed on me, but I was probably 6 or 7 when I started winning money. I was pretty little.” To learn more about PacWest Barrel Racing and Fancy Fast Horses, find them on Facebook.

Angel Rae Miller and Mother Of All Dragons, and, at right, with Sandwich, her miniature pig. May ‘ 2 2



COMMITMENT Trailblazing firefighter Roseanne Moreland has set a standard of excellence with Ocala Fire Rescue. By Max Russell Photography by Dave Miller


oseanne Moreland always excels in anything she does. She never backs down from a challenge. She set the tone for women moving forward. She can hang with the big boys. Those are the words Moreland’s youngest sister, Lindsey Marsh, uses to describe the first woman to rise to the rank of engine captain with Ocala Fire Rescue (OFR). More than a sibling’s admiration for her mentor and hero, Marsh’s words speak a truth backed up by Moreland’s 33 years of experience and onthe-job excellence in service to Ocala residents. Moreland, whose title is Fire Captain/Paramedic, started with OFR in 1989. She was promoted to captain in 1997. Coming from a family with roots deeply embedded in farming and ranching, Moreland did not set out to become a stereotype-smashing role model for young women. “I came to Florida as a little girl. My grandfather retired from ranching in Nebraska and we followed him here to Florida,” she says. After graduating from high school in Lake County, Moreland came to Ocala to pursue her interest in horticulture in the highly regarded program at what is now the College of Central Florida. She was in school and working part time at a feed store when a customer happened to mention that the Florida State Fire College was in Ocala. Intrigued, Moreland reasoned that if she was going to be doing heavy manual labor anyway, she might as well go to the fire college and give firefighting a try. “I had the opportunity put in front of me,” she says. “I took it and still haven't left after 33 years.” Moreland enrolled in the fire college in 1988. The tuition was $99 for a six-week course. “I can guarantee it’s not that anymore,” she says with a chuckle. Indeed not. The tuition for the four courses in the Firefighter 1 curriculum totals $600 and the college now offers more than 40 courses that cover the full spectrum of firefighter training and continuing education.

Left: Capt. Rosanne Moreland. Above top: Ocala Fire Rescue K-9 Gracie. Above bottom: Each gold star emblem on Capt. Moreland’s sleeve represents five years of service. She currently has 33 years of service.

you truly help somebody, you can see it on their face. You can see the appreciation in their eyes.” Firefighter training isn’t the only thing that has changed in the years since Moreland joined the A SPECIAL CALLING force. In addition to advances in firefighting and Life at OFR isn’t all about racing to the aid of peoemergency response, there has been a sea change in ple in need with sirens blaring and lights flashing. opportunities for women not only to join OFR, but Life at the station, Moreland explains, is a lot like to rise through the ranks to senior positions. maintaining a household. “I wasn’t the first woman on the force,” Mo“We clean our stations, we clean our trucks, we reland notes. “Someone else broke the ice. But it wasn’t very popular back then for women to become clean our apparatus and we cook our own meals,’’ firefighters. It’s a very physically demanding job and she explains. “When I first started, we would even mow the grass and do the yardwork.” there are physiological differences between men Because the station becomes the firefighter’s and women. As a woman, you go in knowing it’s not home away from home, as with any family, the ability going to be easy.” to “get along well with others is a must,” she says. OFR’s first female firefighter, Marilyn Johnson, Moreland is very clear in her conviction that was hired in 1985. “As a young female in the fire service in the late the fire service is a special calling, just like law enforcement or public education. If young women 1980s, I set a high bar to assess myself,” Moreland are interested in a career as a shares “I always wanted to firefighter, she says, “They have make sure I could pull my own to understand that being a fireweight and not be a burden fighter is not a nine-to-five job. to anybody else. I think I was A third of your life, you're either harder on myself than anyone coming or going to the firehouse. else just to make sure I always It’s much more than just a job, performed well.” it’s a way of life. Like Moreland did as a new “It's a dynamic, always-changhire at OFR, today’s rookie fireing profession,” she is quick to fighters must first go through a add. “Look at me. I wasn't the probationary period and meet first, and I won't be the last. That's certain expectations, including great opportunity.” performing well under pressure and willingly taking on the rouTURNING POINT tine tasks that make life at the Over her years of service, as Mostation run smoothly for all. reland continued her training and “Those basic expectations expanded her range of expertise, really haven't changed to this all the hard work and demonday,” she says. “We have a good ROSEANNE MORELAND strated leadership paid off in her working team; everybody shoulpromotion to engine captain, the ders the work equally. We all IS THE FIRST FEMALE first female in OFR’s history to have our assignments; everybody TO ACHIEVE THE RANK achieve that rank. shares the load. OF ENGINE CAPTAIN WITH Then, in 2014, her already “Not everybody can do this exemplary career took a lifetype of work,” she adds. “Some OCALA FIRE RESCUE. altering turn. With a training people think we just put out fires, program grant from State Farm but that’s not all we're trained for. We respond to medical emergencies, automobile Insurance, Moreland became the department’s first arson K-9 handler. After rigorous coursework accidents, building collapses, hazardous materials in this highly specialized discipline, Moreland met and a lot more. her new four-legged partner, Gracie, a 2-year-old “The burden of working in emergency situations yellow Labrador retriever specially trained to sniff and dealing with other people’s pain can take a real out accelerants often used by arsonists to start toll,” she admits. “You have to find ways to mentally fires. The duo’s job was to find evidence for proseprotect yourself.” cuting crimes. But, Moreland notes, one of the most rewarding “Gracie came to me at a turning point in my aspects of her work is knowing that she has been career and breathed fresh air into it,” Moreland able to help and console someone in extraordinarily recalls. “I think that's what helped give me the difficult circumstances and make their situation “a longevity I've had. Most firefighters retire after 25 little less scary.” years, on average. This new role and responsibili“And that's something we have to teach the ties gave me a nice change and the opportunity to younger firefighters who are coming in, that we're develop a program that I could take out to children there to help fix the broken,” she notes. “It's a very in our community. taxing profession, but it's also very rewarding. When




“When Gracie retired from her arson work, we moved her over into the public education sector. She loves to go into the schools and teach dog bite prevention. She captivates people's attention, especially the little ones. They're automatically drawn to Gracie and that makes it easier for them to pay attention. People may not remember me, but they always remember Gracie.”


True to her rancher roots and like many in Marion County, Moreland loves horses. And as in most anything she does, she commits to excellence. “I've got some girlfriends in the community who do different types of equestrian sports. I've competed in equestrian events and tried endurance riding,” she says. “Because I’m a firefighter, I was able to do it without too much hardship and since we’re in the Horse Capital of the World, we have all kinds of opportunities here.” Moreland capitalizes on those opportunities and, true to form, does nothing halfway. Last summer, she

embarked on a 10-day trek on horseback, camping and exploring the wilderness near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.


“I didn't consider myself a mentor until my youngest sister told me as an adult how much I mentored her just by having the determination to do what I was doing,” Moreland states. “I never really gave it much thought, but she says she watched me go through all the obstacles throughout my career and overcome them. My goal was always to try to do it gracefully. It's a constant practice.” Marsh, a licensed mental health counselor, confirms what her sister remembers. “Roseanne is a trailblazer,” Marsh offers. “Being in a male-dominated field, you have to be extra strong just to prove yourself.” When asked what kind of advice older sister Roseanne has given her, Marsh replies, “Watching her as I was growing up, she didn’t have to say anything. She led by example. Her actions speak louder than words.” May ‘ 2 2


“ ” A Wonderful Educator

Marion County’s 2022 Golden Apple Rookie Teacher of the Year didn’t set out on a career in the classroom. By Marian Rizzo | Photography by Meagan Gumpert


red apple sits on Melinda Kimball’s desk at Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks, a symbol of her title as Marion County’s 2022 Golden Apple Rookie Teacher of the Year. But the middle school agricultural teacher insists the accolade came as a complete surprise. “I was pretty shocked that I made it this far,” modestly shares Kimball. “It’s an amazing feeling. You don’t do what you do for the recognition, but it feels really good when someone does appreciate the effort you’re putting in.” Teachers with up to three years of experience 48


are eligible for Rookie Teacher of the Year. Though a golden apple is presented when the selection committee enters the classroom, the one Kimball gets to keep is bright red and is engraved with her name and the year she received it. “Red is actually more sought after than the gold one,” insists Kimball. “There’s only one red every year. If you don’t get red in the first few years of teaching, you don’t get one, so I feel so honored to have received it. The kids come by my desk and want to touch it and hold it.” Meghan Magamoll, executive director of the Public Education Foundation of Marion County,

which helps organize the Golden Apple teacher recognition program, describes the day of presentation as a total surprise for the recipients. “It is an exciting day,” Magamoll relates. “One of the best days in the year is when that surprise caravan enters the room and announces to that teacher and students and fellow peers that they have been selected as a Golden Apple recipient.” As a member of the selection committee, Christine Fernandez, a teacher at Shady Hill Elementary School and Marion County’s 2021 Golden Apple Teacher of the Year, got a first-hand look at Kimball’s classroom activities. “As soon as I walked through her classroom door I was struck by her students’ high level of engagement and their excitement for the collaborative real-world learning she provided,” Fernandez declares. “Her rapport and positive relationships with her students shone through as she facilitated their learning. She is a true inspiration, full of passion and joy for her profession.” Formerly a stay-at-home mom, Kimball and her husband, Christopher, have three children. She began teaching in 2015 as a substitute, but she soon realized she had found her true calling. “That first year, I subbed every single day at Marion Oaks Elementary School,” Kimball recalls. “By the second week I had fallen in love with teaching. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, so I went back to school to get my bachelor’s degree.” After earning a degree in agriculture business, Kimball acquired the necessary certification to teach the agriculture classes to middle school students at Horizon Academy. She also volunteers in the Future Farmers of America program. But Kimball admits she never expected her teaching job would turn into a 24/7 commitment. “I didn’t realize how life-consuming it is,” declares Kimball, who was even busier in February when her students were preparing for the Southeastern Youth Fair. “I spent my days here at the school washing chickens,” Kimball says with a laugh. “We had 18 chickens in the show, plus three pigs and four rabbits. I’m here at Christmas and Thanksgiving. I’m here on my birthday. I’m here by myself when all the other teachers are gone. The animals still have to eat, and the kids really like the animals and learn from them, and that’s why I do it. It’s a lot of work but it’s also very rewarding.” Kimball was publicly recognized as RookOpposite: Melinda Kimball holding her red apple award with some of her students. Right: Students gather around Kimball, who is giving a treat to Tater, the class mascot.

ie Teacher of the Year during the Public Education Foundation of Marion County’s Golden Apple Gala on Saturday, January 15th, at the Reilly Arts Center. The event featured videos of students who touted their teachers’ accomplishments. Among them was Xavier Thomas, a senior at Dunnellon High School and previously a student in Kimball’s class. In his presentation, Thomas labeled Kimball “a wonderful educator.” “Nothing about her screams orthodoxy, from the way she rescued a possum from the student parking lot, to her pig Tater, who constantly chased me around trying to bite my ankles for fun,” said Thomas in the video. “She always finds a way to shape these situations into information that I will carry with me for a lifetime.” In her own speech at the gala, Kimball listed 10 tips she gives students for striving for excellence. Number 10 was “Never stop learning.” “I count it a joy to have had the opportunity to work and build relationships with students like Xavier every day,” Kimball said at the event. “As for my students, I just want them to be the best that they can be.... I try to expose them to different kinds of careers. I want my students to become the best version of themselves and to be happy as they are as people.”

The Caring Side of Teaching Leah Bender, Marion County’s 2022 Golden Apple Teacher of the Year, is known for being a caring educator and mentor. By Marian Rizzo | Photography by Meagan Gumpert


eilani Cruz can’t sing enough praises about her former teacher Leah Bender, Marion County’s 2022 Golden Apple Teacher of the Year. When introducing Bender at the Public Education Foundation of Marion County’s gala on January 15th at the Reilly Arts Center, Cruz told an emotional story of how Bender helped her through a difficult personal situation. She went on to say Bender did everything “from buying clothes for students to be able to present their advanced placement research presentations dressed nicely to being an amazing Take Stock in Children mentor.” Bender, a graduate of the University of Phoe-



nix, is in her eighth year at West Port High School, where she teaches AP English Literature and Composition along with Capstone Seminar and Research classes. Despite those high-level activities, Bender also makes time for nonstructured interaction with her students. “My classroom is a safe place for them to express themselves,” she explains. “It’s not just about academics. They feel safe enough that they can be funny and say things off the cuff and they’re not going to get in trouble. Once you create that environment, magic happens.” Recalling the day the selection committee came

to her classroom and presented her with a Golden Apple, Bender says she suddenly became speechless. “It was the first time I was nominated,” Bender shares. “My students were all cheering. I was very happy that my colleagues at West Port trusted me enough to go forth with this and that I was good enough to compete. I had no idea that I was going to win.” The 2021 Rookie Teacher of the Year, Emma Dingman, of Emerald Shores Elementary School, was part of the 10-member selection committee. “When observing her, I noticed she was teaching rather than instructing,” relates Dingman. “Leah really seemed invested in making sure she was thorough on the topic being discussed. When she moved into smaller group instruction with her class, I really noticed she showed skills in communication, listening, collaboration, empathy and patience. You could see the love her students had for her as well as what she was teaching. It was an honor being invited into her classroom.” The daughter of a Pennsylvania school teacher, Bender is married to Roman Bender, who teaches geometry at West Port. But Leah didn’t initially pursue a teaching career. “I started out breeding and training quarter horses for 10 or 12 years. It’s funny that I ended up in Ocala,” Bender says with a laugh. “When the economy tanked, I went back to school and finished my degree in education. It turns out training horses is a lot like working with teenagers. They both take patience.” Along with the title, Bender was presented with a paid three-year lease for a 2022 Kia Soul, provided by Jenkins Auto Group. Bender also was invited to join the foundation’s Golden Apple Academy. The invitation was extended to all five Golden Apple winners and to Melanie Kimball, the 2022 Rookie Teacher of the Year, declares Meghan Magamoll, executive director of the foundation. Other Golden Apple recipients included Beth Abel, Lake Weir Middle School; Jennifer Bourque, Harbour View Elementary School; Joanne Houghton, Fort

McCoy School; and Hannah Whitston, Madison Street Academy of Visual and Performing Arts. “The purpose is to have a cohort of outstanding educators who then can be a part of innovating and encouraging their peers,” Magamoll notes. “They also serve as advocates and a community voice to promote public education. They’re involved in the planning of the annual gala and the selections process for the new teachers of the year.” Bender is thrilled to be part of that elite group. “It’s a nice camaraderie,” she offers. “I’ll be able to meet with these ladies and gentlemen and pick their brains. It solidifies that what we do is important. We all have a hand in making these kids’ lives a little bit better.” Because of Bender’s win, West Port will be the first school to display a gold life-size horse, painted by Ocala multimedia artist Gene Hotaling, and donated by Diane Palmer in memory of her husband, the late Whit Palmer, one of the original board members of the Public Education Foundation. Meanwhile, Bender has already submitted a competition packet for the 2023 Florida Golden Apple Teacher of the Year. The state winner will then go on to the national event. Marion County’s Golden Apple Teacher recognition program was started in 1991 to honor and reward excellence in teaching, notes Magamoll, who co-hosted the gala along with Kevin Christian, director of public relations for Marion County Public Schools. “Being a part of this experience was overwhelmingly emotional,” Magamoll shares. “I honestly felt so much pride for our teachers, what they’re doing every day and their love and devotion to their students. It was a privilege to be a part of celebrating them.” Opposite: Leah Bender and some of her students celebrating her Golden Apple Teacher of the Year award. Below: Bender discussing a writing assignment with students.

BUILDER, FOUNDER, PHILANTHROPIST June 15, 1878 - August 2, 1978

By Leah A. Taylor




attie J. Shaw Cohens, known more familiarly as Mrs. Shaw, began writing, editing, and publishing THE FLORIDA WATCHMAN newspaper in 1925 on her own printing press. But it was more than her publishing prowess that got her noticed. In her long gowns and towering, stately presence, she was said to command the attention of audiences whenever she walked into a room. Shaw had a well-earned reputation, then and now, as a trailblazer in entrepreneurship and a visionary woman ahead of her time. In an article titled "How To Lead," printed in THE FLORIDA WATCHMAN, Shaw described her newspaper as a vehicle to improve her people “spiritually, intellectually, and along the lines of better health, better business and better citizenship.” Ida B. Wells, one of America's first Black female journalists, who was active in civil rights and women's suffrage movements, may have been a mentor for Shaw. Indeed, to her great-grandniece, Nefayr McDonald, of Ocala, Shaw was a groundbreaking journalist. McDonald says Shaw created the printing business because Blacks did not have a newspaper of their own. “People called her with information because they knew she would print it honestly,” McDonald offers. With a large, statewide circulation, THE FLORIDA WATCHMAN was a vital organ in its time, reporting on the local community and church activities in

Left: photo courtesy of Nefayr McDonald. Right: photo courtesy of Ocala Star-Banner.

Ocala’s Mattie J. Shaw Cohens was the first Black woman in Florida to own and operate a semimonthly newspaper and printing company, and she also founded nearly 300 charitable societies.

West Ocala and throughout Florida. As a prominent Baptist and member of Covenant Missionary Baptist Church, Shaw traveled extensively to attend state and national conventions, gathering news for her periodical. A printing press involved the arduous work of setting type, running a heavy press and bookbinding. Shaw’s printing press handled all the programs from churches, weddings and funerals for miles around. Most importantly, Shaw created jobs. Locals including Robert and Alice Houck and Annie Edwards worked full time to help her

accomplish the timely distribution of the paper. Robert Houck worked on the press and the Rev. Marion Tindal, a pastor at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church and New Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Ocala, worked as a print setter.

A Legacy of Service

Founder and builder are two words usually associated with Shaw—for good reason. Shaw liked to do things her way. Born in Camden County, Georgia, to a farmer, Charles Cohens, and his wife, Julia Easton Cohens,

Mattie was the fifth of 13 children. During the school term, she walked five miles a day to attend a school in Jerusalem, Georgia. Her interest in education eventually led her to become a teacher. According to McDonald, at some point she married a “Reverend Shaw” but, for Mattie’s own reasons, she used her surname as her last name. “She flipped it,” McDonald explains. In the 1930s, Shaw opened a residential school for girls in the rural regions of Florida, where she taught Black teens from all over the state. She also established a kindergarten and grammar school at the Ocala Theological Seminary and served as the principal for seven years. McDonald says Shaw once operated a day care center and maintained a long-term friendship with Mary McLeod Bethune, one of the most noteworthy Black educators, civil and women’s rights leaders, and government officials of the 20th century. In 1954, Shaw built The Sun Light Temple Masonic Lodge at the intersection of Northwest

The Sun Light Temple fell into disrepair and was razed in 2017. This monument at the site recognized Mattie J. Shaw Cohens as its founder. May ‘ 2 2



During her 100 years, Shaw’s ambition and advocacy for education, information and aiding the poor extended well beyond Ocala, reaching throughout the states of Florida and Georgia.

Seventh Avenue and Northwest First Street in Ocala. The Florida Watchman Publishing House was initially located in a large brick building north of the Howard Academy Community Center, at 306 NW Seventh Ave. McDonald says Shaw had both buildings built. Famed Florida historian, University of Florida professor and award-winning author Kevin McCarthy references the landmark in his book, African American Sites in Florida. The lodge building also served as a venue for various other events. Ocala resident Cheryl Lonon Walker remembers attending at least one NAACP "mass meeting" there, led by noted local civil rights activist Rev. Frank Pinkston. Others recollect concerts featuring acts such as James Brown, known as “The Godfather of Soul,” Ike and Tina Turner and, purportedly, the “King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley. Former Sun Light Pall Bearers Charitable Society (SLPBCS) member Rev. Mack King Carter recounted in his book, How to Make Good Decisions, that when he was a child living in Ocala, “Madam Mattie J. Shaw Cohens…printed all of the black church news from Pensacola to Key West.” Carter wrote that Shaw even sold sheet music to music departments in Black churches throughout Florida. He lauded her for "printing for the ecclesiastical groups in the black church" and for starting 54


the society in 1947. According to a SLPBCS quarterly report in 1968, Shaw co-founded some 278 societies throughout Florida and 21 societies in Georgia. The SLPBCS provided financial assistance to low-income families needing help with burial arrangements, according to Carter. The society also focused on providing death benefits for the family of its members upon their demise. In an article by Bruce Ergood, "The Female Protection and the Sun Light: Two Contemporary Negro Mutual Aid Societies," Shaw stated at the society’s April 1969 meeting that the SLPBCS had “begun with only seventy dollars and a small number of women and now its net worth was over $100,000 and there were more than 5,000 members, including 198 ministers, in the organization.” McDonald says many of the pastors in Shaw’s day were members of the society. Ergood’s article echoed those sentiments, noting that THE FLORIDA WATCHMAN covered the “extensive ministerial involvement in the society’s activities” but was not an official newspaper for the lodge. Shaw’s press printed the programs for the SLPBCS. Most included a schedule of events, greetings from society members and a list of the dues collected from members. In some, a clever disclaimer existed: “In The Event


Your Name’s Spelled Wrong, And You’re Full of Anger and Pain; Don’t be Upset with Us, Just Sing a Song, You Should’ve Seen Our Manuscript, You Would’ve Done Worse, If Not The Same.” – Smile – The Watchman.” In addition to running a paper and overseeing the society, Shaw held an annual Sun Light Temple parade for many years, which started downtown and ended at the temple. Shaw also held a high-ranking position as a Grand Worthy Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star. As a youth, Brenda Croskey Vereen, a volunteer at the Black History Museum of Marion County, based at the Howard Academy Community Center, recalls being a participant in the Pride of Mattie (an Order of the Eastern Star).

A Legacy of Advocacy

McDonald says that Shaw, who was born on June 15, 1878, worked until her death on August 2, 1978, and was buried in the Tucker Hill Cemetery in West Ocala. Her tombstone appropriately includes the initials of her beloved organization, the SLPBCS. Shaw’s only child, a son, could not continue her printing business as he died early in life. During her 100 years, Shaw’s ambition and advocacy for education, information and aiding the poor extended well beyond Ocala, reaching throughout the states of Florida and Georgia.


Easy Elegance You can set a lovely tone and table with an intimate ladies’ luncheon. By Jill Paglia | Photography by John Jernigan



adies have been enjoying leisurely and elegant luncheons for thousands of years, but these days everyone seems to be in a rush. Maybe making time to host or attend such a gathering could be a wonderful way to slow things down a bit. Elegant luncheons in someone’s home are a common occurrence in locales such as Palm Beach and Charleston, and I would love to see more of them in Ocala. Today, many women take time to meet for lunch at a restaurant, which is great, but a luncheon in your home offers a chance for the gathering to become more personalized and relaxed. Creating an elegant setting begins with linens

Jill and Luna

and fine china. And bring out those “special” serving dishes that may have been passed down from loved ones. Fresh flowers and candles can add a touch of color and an air of gracefulness, and soft background music is always a plus. I think we owe it to the past to really get spiffed up for a ladies’ luncheon. Back in the 1960s, women wore hats and white gloves to lunch. I’m not saying we need to go there again but getting out of casual or work wear for a couple of hours can be a lot of fun. When hosting a meal such as this elegant luncheon, I recommend doing as much of the prep work ahead of time as possible. With this menu, for example, I had the Herbed Avocado Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches mixture—minus the avocado— prepared the night before. I also washed and dried the lettuce for the Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing and made the Mini Berry Cheesecakes so they could chill in the refrigerator overnight. When making the Proscuitto Asparagus Puff Pastry Bundles and Chicken Stuffed Shells Alfredo, have them ready to cook just before your guests arrive so they are as piping hot and fresh as possible. While you complete those final steps, your guests can help themselves to tea and coffee, or libations such as mimosas or a nice white wine. When you are invited to attend a special luncheon, be sure to bring your hostess a gift such as a bottle of wine, chocolates, flowers or anything monogrammed as a way to thank her. These kinds of elegant events can be a good time to involve young girls and help them learn etiquette and give them some hosting tips they can use when they grow up and entertain. Sometimes us ladies deserve something all our own, so if the men in your life balk at not being invited, encourage them to enjoy a round of golf or other activity and then meet up for cocktails later in the afternoon. No matter the guest list, use the occasion to dress up a little, laugh a lot and slow down and enjoy each other’s company.

Chicken Stuffed Shells Alfredo 2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded (I use rotisserie) 1 12-ounce box jumbo pasta shells 1 1/4 cups whole milk 1 cup heavy whipping cream 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 2 large egg yolks, beaten 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 cloves garlic, minced Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste Italian seasoning Parsley, fresh is preferred

Cook pasta until al dente. > Lay the shells on a dish or pan to they can cool without sticking together. > Combine butter, garlic, heavy cream and milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. > Beat the egg yolks in a bowl. > Add a spoonful of the hot milk mixture to the eggs and stir, then repeat with several more spoonsful to temper the eggs. > Slowly add the egg mixture to the saucepan and stir. > Remove from heat. > Stir in the Parmesan and half of the mozzarella. > Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large mixing bowl,

toss together the chicken and 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce. > Put a spoonful of Alfredo sauce on the bottom of a 9” x 13'' baking dish and smooth it around. > Fill each shell with a large spoonful of the chicken and sauce mixture and place in the pan. > Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and parsley. > Pour the remaining Alfredo sauce evenly over the shells. > Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. > Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until warm and bubbly. (Note: You can assemble the shells in the pan and cover and refrigerate them for up to one day in advance.) May ‘ 2 2


Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Strawberry Dressing For salad: 4 cups butter lettuce, torn 2 cups strawberries, sliced 1/2 cup dried cranberries 1/4 cup red onion sliced 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbled 1/4 cup almonds sliced For dressing: 1 cup strawberries 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 clove garlic, minced 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper

To make the dressing, pulse 1 cup of strawberries, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth. > Make the salad by layering the butter lettuce, sliced strawberries, cranberries, onion, goat cheese and sliced almonds in a large bowl. > To serve, either toss the entire salad with dressing and leave it in the bowl or drizzle dressing some on top of individual servings.

Proscuitto Asparagus Puff Pastry Bundles 12 slices prosciutto 8 ounces Gruyere, shredded 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed 1 bunch asparagus (about 12-16 ounces), ends trimmed 1 egg, beaten 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425. > Toss the asparagus in olive oil and season with salt and pepper and let rest. > Line a baking pan with parchment paper. > Lightly flour a surface and roll out the puff pastry until you get a rectangle about double the size you started with. > Make sure the edges are even, then cut the piece into six squares (a pizza cutter works great). > To make the bundles, place a folded slice of prosciutto on top of a square, add three or four stalks of asparagus (depending on size) and one to two tablespoons of cheese. > Lift two opposite corners of the square and wrap them around the ham, asparagus and cheese, and press down to seal the pastry. > Brush the top with beaten egg. > Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. > Bake until the pastry is golden, about 12-15 minutes. > Serve immediately.

Herbed Avocado Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches 10 slices of bread 7 large eggs 2 stalks celery, diced 1 ripe avocado, medium size 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons crème fraîche 2 tablespoons chives, chopped 1/4 -1/2 cup onion sprouts (or another sprout such as alfalfa) 2 to 4 teaspoons mayonnaise 2 teaspoons parsley, chopped 2 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Sprigs of fresh dill Thin slices of cucumber Place the eggs in a large saucepan and cover with water. > Bring to a rolling boil for one minute. > Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid and let stand for 10 minutes. > Drain the eggs and plunge into an ice water bath for at least 15 minutes. > Peel and dry the eggs, then grate them into a large bowl. > Dice the celery and add about

1/4 of a cup. > Add the crème fraîche and mayo, then the herbs. > Halve the avocado, remove the pit and scoop the flesh into a separate bowl. > Mash the avocado with the lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth. > Add the avocado to the grated egg mixture and fold everything together gently. > Taste and add salt if needed. > Butter the bread slices. > Divide the egg salad between five slices and spread it around. > Top with a small amount of onion sprouts. > Put the remaining slices of bread on top and press each sandwich down firmly. > Cut off the bread crusts with a serrated knife and cut each sandwich into four pieces. > Top each piece with one slice of cucumber and a sprig of dill. Arrange on a platter and serve. (Note: The sandwiches, wrapped in plastic, will keep for up to four hours in the refrigerator.)

Mini Berry Cheesecakes 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 cup graham cracker crumbs 5 tablespoons butter, melted 1/3 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten Fresh raspberries and/or blueberries Preheat oven to 350. > Spray cooking oil in a miniature muffin tin. > Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter in a bowl. > Press some of the mixture gently into the bottom and side of each muffin space. > In another bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. > Add the egg and beat on low speed just until combined. > Spoon the mixture over the crusts. > Bake 12-14 minutes or until the centers are set. > Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack. > Refrigerate at least one hour. > To serve, top each mini cheesecake with raspberries and/or blueberries. May ‘ 2 2


Life In Abstract If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then it is never more so than when it comes to abstract art. Ocklawaha-based artist Pamela Roberson is on a journey into that most subjective of all art forms and is helping other artists along the way. By JoAnn Guidry | Artist portrait by Ashley Nicole Johnson


he first impression of Pamela Roberson’s home studio is that of an artist hard at work. Dozens of bright, bold acrylic abstract art pieces decorate the room: on a counter, on small and big easels, on the wall, framed and unframed, stacked and

leaning against the wall. All the tools of the trade are here, too. Paint brushes, various-sized jars of paints, sandpaper, different bits of colored charcoal, sheets of collage paper and pallet knives signal that this is the studio of a busy, goal-oriented artist.

But that is not the case at all. The truth of this studio and of Roberson herself resides in a big bright orange and yellow canvas that is 24 by 36 inches, mounted on an even larger piece of plywood. Above the painting on the plywood is written “Play” in script in bright red paint. “This is what I call my yearlong piece, actually my second one. I give myself a year to finish these pieces, giving it time to develop and show me what it wants to be,” explains Roberson, 54, who has had home studios since grade school. “When I took art classes in high school and in college, everything was about producing so much artwork in a specific amount of time. The more I did that, the more unhappy I was. But now, I have yearlong pieces and, in addition, I usually work on as many as a dozen pieces at once.” To that point, Roberson grabs a stack of painted canvases that are 12 by 12 inches. “Right now, I’m obsessed with this smaller size. It gives you a chance to play more; to experiment and explore more since you have a lot less square footage to cover,” shares Roberson. “I think an experiment-and-explore mindset is very important to creativity. Unfortunately, it takes most of us a long time to come to understand this. But when you do, you come to value the creative process more than the outcome. And that, to me, is what art really is.”

Painting: Exhale

Early Artist

For many people, it can take years, sometimes decades, to find their true calling in life. Thanks to a little lamb, Roberson knew hers in kindergarten. “I remember painting a fluffy lamb on green grass under a sunny blue sky. The teacher asked me to put the painting on the classroom wall for everyone to enjoy, which was quite an honor. But I told her that the painting was for my mom,” recalls Rober-

Painting: Float

son. “So, my teacher told me to go ahead and paint another lamb to put on the classroom wall. I got to stay in the art room while the rest of the class moved on to another non-art activity. That’s when I knew I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.” Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Roberson moved with her family to Houston, when she was 13. After that kindergarten epiphany, she continued to create, mainly pen-and-ink abstract drawings, through high school. The next logical step was to pursue a fine arts degree at the University of Houston, where she first began working with oil. “Very quickly, I came to realize that the college experience was not what I had envisioned,” says Roberson. “The only reason I was in college was because of art, but I had to take all these other classes, like algebra, that had nothing to do with art. It drove me crazy.” And then there were the art classes themselves. “I found the structure of the classes and the art professors to be more focused on production than process,” recalls Roberson. “We were expected to produce three paintings a week and that’s all that seemed to matter. Forget growing as an artist.” As her dissatisfaction grew, Roberson decided she “didn’t need an art degree since I wasn’t planning to be an art teacher.” She left college and began working as a waitress and bartender to pay the bills while she evolved as an artist. “Working in restaurants and bars is hard work. But it gave me the flexible free time I needed for my art,” says Roberson, who also became a self-described hobo, moving from Texas to Wisconsin, Washington, Nevada, Michigan and eventually to Florida. “But, of course, we all need money, so then I moved into the corporate world as an executive assistant. And soon I was spending less and less time on my art. I thought my artistic phase was over.” 62


Art Revitalization Callings tend to persist and just when Roberson thought her artistic passion was gone, a simple act restored it. “One day I picked up a dip pen, ink and paper and just started drawing,” shares Roberson, who was living in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, at the time. “And in that moment, I knew it wasn’t my artistic phase that was over, but rather that my working regular jobs phase was going to end. I committed myself to my art 100 percent and haven’t looked back.”

I start with a blank canvas and then go from there with color, shape and texture. - Pamela Roberson

While living in Eau Claire, Roberson continued to focus on abstract pen-and-ink and watercolor, earning an honorable mention for a piece in the 2014 Confluence of Art. She sold that piece, which would lead to a 42-piece solo exhibition the following year at the Riverwood Gallery in Eau Claire. Almost all those pieces sold. Roberson then exhibited in the 2018 ArtPrize 10 juried art festival in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was again well-received. “I was very prolific during this period and really enjoying my art again,” offers Roberson. “I also sold many pieces to private collectors. I thought my artistic path was set. But then, to my surprise, it changed.” While Roberson had always done abstract art in pen and ink and watercolor, the element of acrylics suddenly seemed to be her new direction. “I felt strongly that working in

acrylics was what I needed to do with my art,” explains Roberson, who moved to Ocklawaha in 2019, about the same time as she had her second epiphany. “It was a very difficult transition, and it was almost like I had to relearn how to paint. I knew I needed help, so I turned to the internet and began to do some research.” Roberson’s internet search led her to David Limrite, a California-based artist and art coach. “Right from the beginning, David was just what I needed. He was what I thought my college art professors should have been,” says Roberson. “Thanks to David, other online teachers and support groups, I knew that acrylic abstract art was indeed my path.” Limrite concurs, saying, “Pamela is an intelligent painter who has great instincts, strong intuition and wise insights. She uses a combination of play, experimentation and risk-taking to build momentum and improve her craft beautifully.”

Creativity Matters

For Roberson, the creative process, not production, is of the utmost importance. “These last three years, I have become more and more detached from the outcome, from the end result with my art,” she admits. “The amazing bonus of this mindset is that it shuts down your inner critic and allows you to be truly creative. I come into my studio with no set goals. I just want to paint.” Abstract art is often described as focusing on inner landscapes rather than the outer landscapes of realism art. And Roberson couldn’t agree more. “My art explores the inner emotional landscapes that we all have. I pay attention to that quiet voice for inspiration,” she notes. “I start with a blank canvas and then go from there with color, shape and texture. Do I go with orange here? Paste in some Continued on page 64

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collage paper? How about some gold leaf? And if a painting stops connecting with me, I just move on to another. I don’t paint with intent and only title the pieces after they’re finished.” Her newfound creative process has led Roberson to enjoy her art and be more prolific than she ever has in her life. And she gives credit where credit is due. “There is no doubt that the biggest impact on my art flourishing these last few years has been thanks to me making those online connections with coaches, mentors and other artists,” she offers. “And because of that, in 2020, I founded Strong Artist Life, an online coaching community to help other artists like I was helped. I left college partially because I didn’t want to be an art teacher and yet, to my surprise, through Strong Artist Life, I have become exactly that. And it has been very gratifying.” Texas-based abstract artist Sherri Harris has been a member of Strong Artist Life from the beginning and can attest to its impact. “What has made Strong Artist Life so great is that Pamela brings all the same energy and authenticity that is in her art to her coaching,” says Harris. “She is a champion for other artists and their work. She has a passion for empowering artists to be bold, authentic and believe in yourself. I highly recommend her workshops and coaching to any artist looking for someone to be on their side.” Roberson is now open to the next phase of her art career. “I suppose I should begin to market my artwork again; do some shows, get into some galleries,” she muses. “But for now, I’m just loving my abstract life and sharing it with others.” To learn more, go to pamelaroberson art.com, strongartistlife. com or Facebook/Stronger Artist Stronger Art 64


Painting: Garden

Painting: Flower

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