Men & Women of The Year 2011

BY October 24, 2011

Bruce and Cynthia ShermanBruce and Cynthia Sherman

You can’t characterize naples without its annual Naples Winter Wine Festival, and you can’t talk about the wine festival without mentioning Bruce and Cynthia Sherman. The event’s 2011 co-chairs say they initially were drawn to the festival because of their love of children and for the opportunity to creatively integrate fun with philanthropy. Whatever they did worked—the festival raised $12 million for children’s charities last year under their leadership. “The largesse is enormous,” Bruce says. “This year we will probably go over $100 million [since the festival’s inception in 2001]. We are all so proud and at the same time astonished by its success.”

Qualities they admire most in others: Him—Honesty and integrity. Her—A “make-it-happen” attitude, where no challenge is too much and nothing is expected in return. Needed to improve the quality of life here: Him—Make the museums in Naples free at least one day a month so those less fortunate can appreciate the arts and other cultural activities at a young age. Her—Make Naples a more pet-friendly town. Guilty pleasures: Him—Speeding. Her—Dark chocolate or hazelnut desserts. On their bucket lists: Him—Taking my grandkids to a Yankees game. Her—Going to Israel. Most gratifying experiences professionally: Him—Building one of the largest independent money management firms in the southeast U.S. Her—Becoming one of the few women partners in a leading New York law firm. …And personally: Him—Meeting Cynthia over 13 years ago and sharing our good fortune with friends, family and the less fortunate in our community. Her—Starting out as a kindergarten teacher when I was just 21 because I appreciated the power that teachers have in shaping children’s lives and self esteem. Alternate career choices: Him—A museum curator of decorative objects, especially from the Art Deco period of the 1920s and ’30s. Her—A movie producer or an architect, either of which would have harnessed my creative capabilities in a bigger and better way. —Jennifer Freihofer

Tom Golisano

Tom Golisano took $3,000 and an idea no one thought would work and turned it into Paychex, a $10 billion company, amassing a great personal fortune along the way. In the past two decades he’s put that money to work in a variety of endeavors, from personal attempts to reshape politics (gubernatorial runs in his native New York and an ongoing proposal to eliminate the Electoral College) to helping improve the lives of children and people with developmental disabilities. The Rochester native, who turns 60 this month, made a much-publicized move to Southwest Florida and immediately immersed himself in the philanthropic scene.

A different career: I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I was an outfielder. Quality he most admires: Directness. It saves a lot of time and energy. If you have an issue, talk about it. Least favorite dinner party conversation: The last restaurant I ate at. It’s boring conversation. Talk to me about issues that require thought. What people don’t know about him: I have a really good sense of humor. I like to play practical jokes. Still left on his bucket list: Changing the (presidential) election system to a national popular vote. It’s a very important issue to me. His biggest regret: An ex-marriage. I hope she sees this. Favorite personal achievement: Winning the county baseball championship. I’ve still got my old jacket. Why he donated $5 million to the Children’s Museum of Naples: I thought it was a good project and I had never done a challenge grant before. But I saw all of these people working so hard, determined to make it work. His future philanthropic endeavors: We’re definitely going to shift our focus more to Southwest Florida. —Jonathan Foerster

Gail MarkhamGail Markham

Gail Markham remembers watching as her mother was trapped in an abusive marriage, seemingly powerless to leave—without her own resources, marketable skills or a network of friends to lean on. She vowed right then and there to never put herself in that position.

Fast-forward approximately five decades and Markham, 60, is about as far from that as possible. A successful businesswoman and mother, she built her firm from one employee into Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Company, P.A., a company with 33 employees.

But her finest hour may come from her work with Lee County’s PACE Center for Girls. As a survivor of sexual abuse herself, she has a special affinity for the girls in PACE.

“It’s been very healing for me,” says Markham, the center’s chairperson. “There is a 90 percent success rate for girls in PACE (meaning a girl doesn’t get in trouble again in the next year after leaving the program) versus 25 percent for (juvenile) detention. It costs $13,000 per girl per year in PACE and $43,000 per year per girl in detention.”

It doesn’t take a C.P.A. to see the savings.

If she could have another career: Photography or racecar driving. People are surprised to know: I am a Porsche nut. I owned my first 911 at age 22 and have owned five of them. Have you ever been at a crossroads in your life? Yes, when I was 20, I dropped out of the University of Florida and got married, then went to work as a sales clerk. After several months I made the decision to resume my college education. Still on her bucket list: I do not have a bucket list yet. Qualities she most admires: Honesty, selflessness and the ability to laugh at themselves. Her greatest regret: I have done or said things throughout my life that I regret, but I believe that I have learned great life lessons from them and think I am a better person because of these mistakes.—Michael Korb

Clyde ButcherClyde Butcher

When a man lists “toast” as one of his guilty pleasures, you wouldn’t expect him to earn Man of the Year honors. But Clyde Butcher, 59, isn’t normal. He’s an artist—capable of taking awe-inspiring scenes created by Mother Nature and actually improving upon them. His incredibly detailed black-and-white photographs show us a Florida we don’t get to see from the highway or the grocery store’s parking lot. Google him and see for yourself.

“It is truly unlike any other place on earth,” says Butcher. And when he has worked his darkroom magic, the scenes become otherworldly. That’s right, we said darkroom.

Butcher is old school, eschewing digital equipment for large-format cameras weighing up to 40 pounds, such as his 12-by-20-inch Wisner. But what people may not realize is that he was a very successful color photographer throughout the ’70s and early ’80s, featuring his scenes on wall clocks. But Butcher’s world went from color to black and white on June 15, 1986: the day his son was struck and killed by a drunk driver. That day also happened to be Father’s Day and his wedding anniversary. Since then, he’s been a solitary figure wading chest deep into a world we may not even know existed if not for him.

One thing that would improve the quality of life here: Require everyone to have solar panels. People are surprised to know: That I have an architectural engineering degree. Guilty pleasures:Toast, ice cream, hot dogs. Have you ever been at a crossroads in your life and would you make the same choice again? I’ve been at so many crossroads in my life I can’t even remember what they all were. I would say that the roads I’ve chosen have always been the ones that seemed the most exciting, challenging and probably most difficult to me at the time. Still on his bucket list: Scuba diving. Greatest regret:I have tried to live my life so that I wouldn’t have regrets… My life is extraordinary and I’m thankful for it. —Michael Korb

Joe CoxJoe Cox

Although it’s still months away from opening, the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples is well past its infancy stage as far as Joe Cox is concerned. He’s been working on the project long enough, that he’s ready to send it off to the first day of kindergarten.

And like any proud papa, the museum’s executive director is excited to show his baby off. The 38-year-old Englishman’s tireless work for the organization has taken it from a mother’s dream to a gleaming, multi-million dollar reality.

You’d be surprised to know:Since birth, I’ve been deaf in my left ear. I’ve learned how to manage it but it certainly makes me very conscious of the importance of making the Children’s Museum fully accessible to all visitors, regardless of their physical or learning ability. Most gratifying personal experience: Last year I crossed the finish line of the Naples Daily News Half Marathon—my first half marathon. Once I get a few more under my belt, perhaps a full marathon is in my future. Quality he most admires: Truly great people are able to inspire those around them to dream—and strive to make those dreams a reality. Needed to improve life in Southwest Florida: Getting the arts out of institutions and into the streets would be thrilling. Guilty pleasure: You are likely to find me curled up with a great science fiction or fantasy novel. Bucket list item still to be accomplished: Space flight. Crossroads moment in his life:Deciding whether or not to move to Florida from London was certainly a defining moment in my life. That decision certainly set me on the path to becoming (head of the museum), and I would most certainly make the same choice again.—Jonathan Foerster

Gary TiceGary Tice

Gary Tice doesn’t just talk about abiding by the Golden Rule—he made it the core of his First National Bank of the Gulf Coast, building it right into the logo. He doesn’t just say he puts family first, either—it’s so important to him, the two words are spelled out on his car’s license plate.

It’s been a winding career path, from working at a railroad manufacturing company to a computer programming position, that led the 64-year-old chairman and CEO to his current position, but at the root of all of them, he’s maintained that simple philosophy—treat others as you’d like to be treated, and put family above all else—and he instills it into every one of his 70 employees. “Those are the guiding principles of the bank. We put our faith in our employees to follow the Golden Rule—to put themselves in the customer’s place. This philosophy must start at the top.”

Qualities he admires most: Trust and loyalty. That was the foundation on which I grew up. Alternate career choice: It was my goal to be a disc jockey. My handle on the radio would have been the Little Round Mound of Sound. His most gratifying professional experience: The success of First National Bank of Florida—how we built it from nothing to a $5.4 billion bank. Needed to improve the quality of life here: Early intervention (in diagnosing autism in children) is critical. I would like to see some place in this community able to help diagnose and help parents understand how important this is. What he won’t talk about at cocktail parties: Anything negative. I think you should talk about the good things in life. Still on his bucket list: I’d like to go on an African safari.—Jennifer Freihofer

Shot at The Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, Naples

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