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Scene & Heard

Lots of Love: Norman Love, seen here with wife, Mary, is launching a new line of designer chocolates. While at the Lee County PACE Center’s annual luncheon, attended by Heather Fitzenhagen DeBoest, Melissa Simontis and Margaret Depew, donors dished out nearly $500,000.LOVE LINE

Sweet mercy. Our sinning must take a new turn as chocolatier Norman Love is teaming with the iconic fine-chocolate brand Fannie May for a new line of ultra-premium chocolates—FM Artisan by Norman Love. You’ll now be tempted by hand-crafted delights in such flavors as Madagascar bourbon vanilla, candy apple and more, all in vibrant colors and designs. (By the way, Norman and his wife, Mary, a Chicago native, have just bought a condo in the Windy City, also the home of Fannie May.) Just say we’ve fallen for all of Norman’s lines so far and welcome the new Love in our lives.


Child’s play takes a great leap forward in February with two grand openings of promising note. The long-awaited Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples will finally makes its debut. Joe Cox, the executive director, tells me that memberships are selling like hotcakes and, even months before the opening, C’mon has received more than 9,000 class-visit requests. In Fort Myers, Zoomers Amusement Park—after sitting empty for nearly a decade—will be back in business, thanks to the support of the Barnes family of Fort Myers Beach. There’ll be a new rollercoaster, bumper cars and many other fun features. I’m told there will be plenty for older kids, too, including the likes of us, and prizes will include big-screen TVs and pots and pans. I’m freeing my inner child already.



They sure picked up the pace for progress at the Lee County PACE Center for Girls annual luncheon at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in November. Board chair Gail Markham launched a capital campaign to pay for a new school for the girls, and legendary philanthropist Eleanore Kleist turned right around with a $250,000 donation and challenged the board and its supporters to match that sum. Before the lunch was finished, hefty donations from Cliff and Georganne Williams, Scott and Mary Fischer, Steve and Sonya Sawyer and Gail herself—plus many others—brought in $200,000 of the $250,000 needed for the match. That’s some fast start for a most worthy cause.



Brian and Denise Cobb were once again rubbing shoulders with Hollywood royalty in October as guests at a two-day celebration of songwriter Hal David. They were on hand when David received his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and thrilled to the sounds of David’s Walk on By, What’s New Pussycat? and To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before blaring on the streets of Tinseltown. The next night, the Cobbs attended the tribute concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and were treated to numbers from the many performers who made his work famous—including Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, Dwight Yoakam, Kristin Chenoweth and Stevie Wonder. High notes all around, I’d say.


News, news, news … the boy Scouts of America Southwest Florida Council raised more than $80,000 for Lee and Collier county scouts at a gala in November. It honored Jim Nathan, head of Lee Memorial Health System, for his service and dedication to the community … The Lubner family opened its new home goods store, Clive Daniel, in November at the former Robb & Stucky store on U.S. 41 in Naples ... The Chinese company that bought the rights to the Robb & Stucky name is said to be opening a furniture store at the old Robb & Stucky place on U.S. 41 in Fort Myers … Business owner Sandy Stilwell is upsizing The Sunshine Café, renaming it the Sunshine Grille and moving it across the parking lot to the old Arizona Pizza site … Cristof’s, the much-anticipated new restaurant, is finally open on McGregor Boulevard near Colonial Boulevard … Longtime boutique owner Heather Holland and her family are back in business after shutting down Malle Montgomery in Fort Myers. Heather, her mom and sister have reinvented the space as a boutique and yoga studio called Ruby and Pearl’s. Heather said the idea came to her in a dream. She had shut down Malle Montgomery three years ago after her four-year-old daughter, Piper, died suddenly on Christmas Day.  


It was quite an emotional scene when Rosalie Seigel’s family, friends and former Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure colleagues paid tribute to her last October. Rosalie, who last year died of cancer at 48, had given so much to help women fight breast cancer. Her husband, Bruce, movingly told the gathering at the Komen headquarters in Bonita Springs about Rosalie’s dedication to the cause. He described her money-raising efforts and how she had started Project Hope, where newly diagnosed breast cancer patients received handmade pink tote bags filled with hand-knitted shawls, a special pillow to help ease the pain and a cover for the drainage bags. The totes went to more than 1,000 patients as Project Hope spread to chapters around the nation. One such patient told me, “It was like you carried a hug in that bag all the time when you went to it.” Rosalie passed on the very morning of the April Relay for Life, an event she co-chaired, and there is no better way to measure her legacy than the words of that patient.


Watch sarah owen’s star rise. The beloved leader of Community Cooperative Ministries for the past six years has now taken over as executive director of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. Sarah had helped build CCMI into a multi-million-dollar nonprofit, feeding tens of thousands of hungry people every year. There’s great enthusiasm for what she’ll bring to the Community Foundation as she settles in this year. The Foundation also announced that a scholarship in the name of longtime philanthropists John and Ellen Shepard was set up by a contribution from an anonymous donor. The Shepards were so surprised and moved to tears by the gesture. A well-deserved role reversal there.


I was privileged to emcee the Honored to Give reception at the Miromar Design Center in October (produced by Gulfshore Life in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Collier County and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation). There were worthy award recipients, lots of laughs and sage advice. It all built to an incredible moment of inspiration when Daniel Guzman came forward to accept his award as Outstanding Student Volunteer for Collier County. Daniel told of his life as a child of migrant farmers, often rising at 5 a.m. to ride his bike to school to use a computer. He talked of his desire to attend college. He was clearly touched by his being honored, moved by the moment. After he finished speaking, people in the audience flocked to his side with offers of a new computer, Internet service, scholarships and other assistance. This is what I so much love about being part of this community.

This article appears in the January 2012 issue of Gulfshore Life.

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