By Ila Preti

Give a hearty welcome to delightful, talented Helen Kelly who joined us in October!  Many of us knew her from her very active participation in many community organizations.

Born in Manhattan, Helen attended Cathedral High School.  She graduated with a B.S. from Mt. St. Vincent College in Riverdale; her major was Business Administration.

Her career began as an Advertising Agency Account Executive at J. Walter Thompson and Abbott Kimball.  She later became the Fashion Advertising Director at the New Yorker Magazine.  (This is where she met Jane Smiley who later introduced her to Sarasota and, much later, to Plymouth Harbor.)

Helen married John Love Kelly in 1952; living in Cortland Manor, N.Y., they raised two children, Janet and J. Scott.  Their four grandchildren are scattered around the country.  Helen enjoys following the exploits of her son who lives in Salt Lake City and is an avid triathlon participant.

When they retired from the advertising world, Helen and John moved to Siesta Key where they lived for eleven happy years.  After her husband’s death in 2004, Helen moved to a beautiful ‘tree house’ in the Landings.

Helen’s community service record is spectacular.  At the Women’s Resource Center she has been a board member, newsletter editor and Scholarship committee co-chair.  A former board member of the Sarasota Orchestra Association, Helen was the editor of their newsletter.  She worked on the Selby Library Reading Festival.  As a former member of the Mission Valley Golf Club, she was on the staff of their Valley Views newsletter.

Helen now attends classes at the USF Lifetime Learning program, studying ‘Great Books’ and Creative Writing; her memoirs are the current writing project.  She is interested in the theatre and subscribes to the Asolo and Florida Studio Theatres.  She also enjoys the Town Hall lecture series.

While she has many happy memories to look back on, she remembers, with special fondness, a ‘home exchange’ with a family from Montremont, France (near Lyon).  Welcomed there by the family and friends of the exchange couple, it was a memorable month.

An active, dynamic woman with an infectious smile, we look forward to Helen Kelly’s involvement in Plymouth Harbor!

National Philanthropy Day is celebrated across the country on November 15 as a means to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy—and those people active in the philanthropic community—have made to our lives, our communities and our world. This official day of recognition is formally supported by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and hundreds of other nonprofit and for-profit organizations throughout North America. In fact, more than 100 communities and 50,000 people around the world participated in NPD events and celebrations.

This year, The Plymouth Harbor Foundation chose two separate occasions to thank the many recent and historical donors who have generously supported the mission of Plymouth Harbor to nurture a compassionate, caring community filled with that zest for life.

National Philanthropy Day Luncheon

The first event we participated in was the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) 28th annual luncheon at Michael’s on East, where over 500 people gathered to celebrate the philanthropists in the county who give of themselves and their treasures to make our county the best it can be.

This year, the Plymouth Harbor Foundation sponsored a table to recognize our resident Joanne Hastings and her gift to the Foundation to support the Wellness Center Renovation.  Mrs. Hastings was among a small group of seven notable philanthropists well known in our community who were each nominated for the honor of Outstanding Individual Philanthropist.

Among them was Charlie Huisking, whose mother resided at Plymouth Harbor until her passing.  Others were Graci and Dennis McGillicudy, Drs Bob and Patricia Gussin, Alfred and Jean Weidner Goldstein, and Dr. Philip and Nancy Kotler.

Celebrating the Spirit of Philanthropy

The second big event was our own first Spirit of Philanthropy Celebration on November 14 held at Plymouth Harbor in the Mayflower Dining Room and Plymouth Rock Café. Over 175 guests came together to help celebrate the impact philanthropy has had on life at Plymouth Harbor over the years.

Our dining services amazed us once again with a spectacular dinner buffet with carving stations.  The bar staff was kept busy while live music drew dancers to our beautiful and portable dance floor in the Plymouth Rock Café. We can thank our dancing Starrs, resident philanthropists Phil and Barry, for the dance floor!

The centerpiece of the evening was the premiere of the first Plymouth Harbor Foundation video to honor the rich heritage of philanthropy at Plymouth Harbor.

It was truly an amazing celebration sponsored by our local Northern Trust, for which we are sincerely grateful.

Top right: Joanne Hastings

Middle right: L to R: Gene Heide, Nancy Hobson, Janey & Jon Swift, Celia Catlett & Harry Hobson

Right: L to R: Glenn Shipley, Barbara Lane, Diane Muir, Phil Delaney, President, Mary Pat McNally, Lori Sutton & Rick Gomez.


Originally from Hungary, Ibolya Elizabeth Acs, is known to her Plymouth Harbor family as Liz, a dedicated member of the housekeeping and laundry operations staff.  Liz has been a resident of the USA since 1984, and prior to coming to Plymouth Harbor, she worked at Kobernick House and Kensington Manor.  Starting as a full time Housekeeper in May 2005, Liz has since transferred to Plymouth Harbor’s laundry operation demonstrating her flexibility and ability to multi-task, a quality noted often in her appraisals.

Frequently recognized for her great attitude, her supervisors describe Liz as cooperative, knowledgeable, helpful, and always on the go. “Liz loves to keep busy.  She can work in any area, from cleaning apartments to laundry.  She takes pride in her work.  She enjoys her job very much and will go above and beyond our expectations.”

Residents and co-workers, who frequently award her Shining Stars, often point out the cooperative and kind demeanor that Liz always displays. For many reasons, including her great attitude and willingness to go the extra mile, Liz has been honored as the December 2013 Plymouth Harbor Employee of the Month.

Liz can feel proud of her accomplishments at Plymouth Harbor. Even more, as one co-worker observed, “We know she feels very proud to be part of the Plymouth Harbor family.”

Chris and Karen Romig, a classically trained flute and piano duo, have been performing together for 15 years.  Plymouth Harbor audiences enjoy many performances throughout the year by visiting artists. The Romig Duo’s concert on Thursday, November 21 at 7:45 pm in Pilgrim Hall is yet another example of gracious living.

Karen Romig has played in orchestras in California and Florida and over the years has won many awards in prestigious competitions. She studied with Arthur Hoberman of the 20th Century-Fox studio orchestra and continued studies with Bonita Boyd, Julius Baker, Anne Giles, Amy Porter, Rhonda Larson, and Carol Wincenc. She has also been a featured soloist Crystal Cathedral, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Young Artists Music Festival, and with the Venice Symphony.

As an ordained minister at Venice Presbyterian, Chris uses his keyboard skills at special services as well as often accompanying his wife.  Together they provide a charming program of uplifting entertainment and dazzling virtuosity.

Their program:

  •  Wilhelm Popp:  La Chasse (Galop Brillante for Flute and Piano)
  • Gabriel Faure:  Morceau De Concours
  • Ian Clarke:  Sunstreams
  • Ernesto Nazareth: I Caught You Cavaquinho!
  • Rhonda Larson:  The Way of the River
  • Claude Bolling:  Madrigal (from “Picnic Suite”)
  • Andrae Crouch (arranged by Joel Raney):  Soon and Very Soon
  • Paul Taffanel:  Fantasie on Themes from the Opera Francoise de Rimini
CDS on sale after the one hour concert – “Flute and Piano Music from Around the World” and the newly released “A Joyous Christmas.”

Resident Snapshot by G. Randolph Bishop

When you enter Sandra Forbes’ light, bright, inviting apartment, you see the hand of an experienced decorator, namely Sandra herself; interior decorating has been a hobby all her life and, with her many moves, she has had ample opportunity to use it.

Born and raised in Port Chester, N.Y., she was educated in the local school system, attended New York University, majoring in business, graduated with a BA degree.  She found employment at Alexander’s, at that time a well-known department store chain in the New York area and, after training, became an assistant buyer in the Women’s and Child’s Department at the White Plains store.

With her marriage to Clifford Forbes, she stopped working and moved to Philadelphia.  After three moves in 8 1/2 years, they settled in Franklin Lakes, N.J.  Twenty-five years later, Sandra moved to Sarasota where her only child, a daughter, Gail Forbes, also lives; her last residence in Sarasota was at Lake Shore Village.

Her late husband, Clifford Forbes, was a 1958 graduate of NYU School of Engineering.  While he was employed at Hamilton Standard, a leader in aerospace technologies, he was assigned to work with Gus Grissom, the astronaut; Grissom wanted to develop a new helmet for space flights.  Together the two men created a space helmet which eventually went to the moon.  The prototype, in wood, was presented to Forbes on completion of the project.  Forbes subsequently founded a business in New York, a firm he headed till 2 1/2 years ago when he suffered a fatal stroke at age 78.

Sandra Forbes’ life as a volunteer started as a teenager when, pushed by her father, she took her dog to comfort nursing home residents.  She volunteered in her daughter’s school library and, when Gail joined the school band, she became a “band mother,” driving kids to competitions.  Here in Sarasota, she was a “cuddler” in the neonatal department at Sarasota Memorial for twelve years and, most recently, a “caring companion” at Anchin Hospice for seven months.

Plymouth Harbor and Sandra Forbes are a good fit.  Since painting watercolors is another hobby, she’s an interesting addition to our thriving art community.  We welcome her and hope she enjoys life here in our active and interesting community as much as we do.

When Michael Johnson was first hired as a part-time server at Plymouth Harbor in May 2000, he was immediately recognized as an asset to the dining services staff. Promoted to full-time wait service Caption in 2002, he continued to go above and beyond his responsibilities jumping right in to take care of what needs attention.

Thirteen years after his initial hiring, Michael is still being recognized for his good work, this time at Employee of the Month in November 2013.

In the nomination, one of his supervisors was quoted, “Michael is very caring and gives impeccable service to the residents.  It has been great watching him grow and mature in his tenure here.”

Disciplined work and the growth that results enabled Michael to further his career with a full-time administrative position with Chapman & Associates and night school at Sarasota County Technical Institute, all while continuing to work part-time at Plymouth Harbor.

Through these years and most recently, Michael has received several Shining Stars from our residents.  They all complement his skills, professionalism, patience, accuracy, and overall pleasant disposition when providing services to the residents.

As with many of the long-time staff in this community, work is a family affair.  Michael met his wife, Susie, while working here at Plymouth Harbor.  They now have a son Collin, 3 ½  years old, who keeps them both very busy.

Congratulations, Michael!  Your work is appreciated by so many here!


When Weta married the handsome Walt Cannon, whom she had met on a blind date, it was on one condition: the couple would move toNew York Cityas soon as possible. She had her eyes on graduate school, a career in public health policy, and a life of world travels. They did move to the Big Apple where Walt built his career with AT&T while she raised their three children.  Graduate school was not in the cards for Weta, but she did top off her nursing degree with a bachelor’s degree in education when her youngest son graduated from high school.

Weta’s ambition and determination were instilled in her early youth when her father and most of the other men in Nederland, Texas were off fighting the war. Her mother and all the other women around her were in charge, making all the decisions, working in the defense plants, and paying the bills.  It was an unprecedented time of choice and freedom for women in theU.S.and Weta, no doubt, took it for granted. That is, until she became an adult herself in the 50’s and 60’s and discovered that, in reality, women had few choices of their own.

Working as an ER nurse in New York City’s Roosevelt Hospital, Weta got her first dose of the horrific consequences of denying low-income women choice in family planning and healthcare. In the 1960’s when Weta was raising her own children with her husband in New York City, a woman who wanted to end her child–bearing years with a tubal ligation, had to meet the following requirements: bear a minimum of four children first, be at least 35 years old, undergo a psychiatric evaluation, and obtain her husband’s permission.  These experiences motivated Weta to learn more about Planned Parenthood and its Center for Family Planning Program Development, known as the Guttmacher Institute, a designated Collaborating Center for Reproductive Health by the World Health Organization.  She found herself at ground zero during a seminal time in the family planning and women’s health movement.

Weta’s social consciousness, driving her to participate in peace marches and later National Organization for Women marches, was equally matched by a progressive-thinking husband. Together they lived on a boat for a year, travelled across the U.S. twice over a two-year period, and travelled the world.

Weta, far left, with other volunteers

When they retired to life on Siesta Key in 1989, she volunteered as a clinic escort at the local Planned Parenthood during years when anti-choice protests were particularly vociferous and violent. Until two years ago, she was a regular volunteer in the clinic’s recovery room. Now she takes on whatever job wherever she’s needed.

One glance around Weta’s living room on the 17th floor reveals a gallery of folk art and artifacts gathered from their travels, which took them to many developing countries in Asia and Central andSouth America.  On their travels, Weta naturally gravitated to experiences that offered her a window into the nature and challenges of health care in each country. While they did participate in a research program on the Amazon, she regrets not taking advantage of service programs where she might have been able to address issues such as the appalling sex trafficking of women she’d encountered inCambodia,Thailand, andNepal.

Weta with Jan Chester (left)

“I consider my years of volunteering at the Planned Parenthood Clinic my service,” says Weta. “Barbara Zdravecky and Jan Chester (of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Florida) are miracle workers. We have come a long way in this community, but what we’ve gained is still not secure.”

Now with four granddaughters and one grandson, she is determined to do everything she can to ensure that they will live in a world where everyone has choices.  “What we want is universal access to affordable healthcare for men and women. I’ve talked with the men seeking preventative healthcare at the clinic, and they are victims of blocked access and choice as well.”

Weta has come to expect the protesters as she walks into the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Sarasota’s Rosemary District bearing her husband’s name, but it still saddens her.  “We all want the same thing, really:  healthy lives and children who are loved. Until we can have a dialogue, nothing much is going to change.”

Yet change and making the world a better place is what motivates Weta and other residents who volunteer. “I feel lucky to be living in a community of such vital, caring, and engaged individuals,” she says. “The intensity of everyone’s involvement makes for a rich community experience here at Plymouth Harbor.”

Plymouth Harbor was represented in force at the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Annual Membership Meeting and Luncheon on November 1.  CEO Harry Hobson was there with members of his senior leadership team.

r-l: Harry Hobson, Nick Gladding, Joe Devore, Garry Jackson, Becky Pazkowski, Tom Hopkins, Plymouth Harbor Board Chair, Gordon Okawa, Tena Wilson, Mary Allyn, Jody Hudgins, Trustee, and Tom Barwin.

Of course, Plymouth Harbor, now celebrating its 47th year serving the community, has been a long-time member of the Chamber, but there was a reason for such an enthusiastic showing at this event.  Plymouth Harbor was honored as one of the Chamber’s Salute to Business “Top 9.”

This is the 2nd Annual Salute to Business where the Chamber recognizes members in three areas: Attaining Milestone Anniversaries of Service (years in business), Investing in the Future (capital investments to facilities), or Hiring Our Neighbors (hiring within the past year).  Plymouth Harbor was recognized for Investing in the Future as one of the top 3 in that category.  “Plymouth Harbor is known as a top quality residence,” said Steve Queior, Executive Director of the Greater Sarasota Chamber.  “We are proud to be able to honor such an excellent community for having the foresight to continually invest in its facility at its beautiful location to nurture its well-deserved reputation for excellence.”

Gratefully accepting the award, Harry Hobson stated, “I believe that there is greater risk in standing still than moving forward in this competitive environment, because standing still clearly translates to taking steps backward and jeopardizing your future.”  He went on to point out that, “In our field, expanding our wellness programming and developing a new assisted living/memory support center are two prime examples of how we choose to embrace and ensure Plymouth Harbor’s future and stay in a leadership capacity.”

A video highlighting Plymouth Harbor’s commitment to the future was shown to over three hundred business and community leaders from across the country gathered at the luncheon that day.  It was a proud day for Plymouth Harbor, but in terms of our mission, nothing out of the ordinary for this extraordinary community.

Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay is proud to present Altered Egos Plus, an exhibition of paintings by Jay Scott Pike, in the Mezzanine Gallery, November 5 – December 2, 2013. The public is invited to an open reception Tuesday, November 5 at 4:30 – 6:00pm.


Jay Scott Pike has been a professional artist almost since the day when he, at the age of 16, enrolled in the Art Students League in Manhattan. He finished his art school training at the Ringling School of Art before going back to the northeast for the remainder of his career as a professional artist.

His professional work spanned from commercial art for big name brands to comic books and pin-up art. While in the Marines at the end of WWII he even took commissions to paint lovely ladies on the sides of bomber aircraft.

The Mezzanine Gallery show includes 6 examples of portraits Jay Scott Pike has painted of his neighbors in Plymouth Harbor, but they aren’t the standard portraits you may imagine. Each resident is portrayed as an alternative character in some ways mirroring or countering their real lives.  Other works in the show, including works in acrylics, oils and prints, are also figurative to some degree and always imaginative.

Altered Egos Plus, an exhibition of paintings by Jay Scott Pike – at the Mezzanine Gallery at Plymouth Harbor, November 5 – December 2, 2013. Open reception, Tuesday, November 5, 2013, 4:30-6:00pm.