By: Lee Yousri
When I invited Dee Gaylord to my apartment for her “bio” interview, she immediately said, “Why don’t you come to mine and you can see my artwork?” That was my first clue: I was dealing with a genuine, gracious person—dedicated to her home and her art. Welcome, Dee.
Life for Dee started in Peoria, Illinois. It really started when she attended Bradley College there and met her husband-to-be. Welcome, Jim. In the early years of their marriage, Dee taught first grade and Jim was a real estate developer. In 1969, they moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where Jim had purchased a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. It was a magical progression after that as Jim developed a chain of restaurants in Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska. Dee took advantage of their domicile, a university town, by continuing her education. She took classes in art, clinical psychology, and gerontology, and received a post-graduate degree.
But Dee’s first and all-consuming love was painting. She dedicated considerable time to it, participating in many shows. Photos of her paintings were included in books on watercolor. Their first exposure to this area was at a meeting held in Sarasota where Jim was appointed as the Upper Midwest Franchise President. They stayed at The Colony on Longboat Key, now defunct, but at that time reputedly the top tennis resort in the country—and as tennis buffs, they enjoyed it so much they actually purchased a condo on this very first visit. It was a “had to rent” deal that permitted them to spend only one month yearly there. They sold it a few years later and purchased a condo that allowed them to stay as long as they chose. For 25 years, they were snowbirds. Dee had the pleasure of owning a gallery in downtown Sarasota and she studied with many great artists who came here to conduct workshops.
Upon retirement in 1995, Jim served on many boards and enjoyed being a lecturer at the University of Nebraska’s business school. He lectured on entrepreneurship, and in 1997, was selected by the university as Entrepreneur of the Year. While all this was going on, they raised three children: Tim, John, and Missy. This of course progressed into grandchildren—four to be exact. In 2008, the Gaylords bought a home in Lakewood Ranch and subsequently became Florida residents.
Through friends they heard about Plymouth Harbor and they find it ideal. They love their beautiful Tower apartment where they are surrounded by Dee’s art, and at the same time, Jim deals with his health issues as a resident of the Smith Care Center.