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Scene & Heard: A Rocker Rescued

BY January 2, 2018

It took a hurricane and a heart attack to keep Brian Howe off his European tour and at home on Fort Myers Beach. Howe’s manager, Paul Easton, told me Brian is being a good boy for now. Words not typically used to describe rockers. Then again, the last few months haven’t exactly been typical for any us, including the former lead singer of Bad Company. The 64-year-old canceled his tour following Irma’s landfall Sept. 10. Brian’s website explained he felt the need to stay and help his son, granddaughter and many rescue animals following the storm’s destruction. There were also apparently issues with the tour’s promoter. Then came Sept. 26. The British rocker had a heart attack while running errands on Fort Myers Beach. Fortunately, a young couple, Ruby Church and her boyfriend, Caio Lemos, saw Brian in trouble. They alerted paramedics and stayed with him until help arrived. Paul told me Brian is extremely grateful to the two of them. He’s itching to get back on stage with his classics and some new material, which I hear is creating quite the buzz.

Back in the early 1990s and continuing to 2008 when world-renowned artist Robert Rauschenberg sadly passed away, there were the most spectacular, fun soirees at his fabulous, modern beach house on Captiva. Guests included some of his most famous friends, like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sharon Stone, Roy Lichtenstein, Lauren Hutton, Meryl Streep and more. To say that the great room facing the Gulf of Mexico was a sparkling salon filled with a plethora of popular and creative celebrities on a regular basis is to put it mildly.

Marc Collins and Darryl Pottorf

But, after Rauschenberg died and famed artist (Rauschenberg’s assistant and apprentice) Darryl Pottorf took over part of the estate, the parties became less frequent. Darryl has a lovely home in town, and with Bob gone—well, it’s just different. Happily, that changed recently when Darryl and his partner, Mark Pace, hosted an exclusive VIP reception for ACT (Abuse, Counseling and Treatment—the shelter that Darryl’s sister Jennifer Benton presides over). It’s been around 15 years since I was at a party at the compound, but so little had changed—it was still just as magical as ever, and the spirit of Bob was all around as we mixed, mingled, admired Darryl and Bob’s art work, talked about the old days and supported the worthy cause of ACT. Flutist and Rauschenberg BFF Kat Epple was there, as was Sanibel artist Janet Vince, along with ACT supporters Stephen Gray-Blanchett, James Caudill-Ritter, Earl Smith, Mark Griffin and honorary Arts for ACT Chair Marc Collins. Also lighting up the room were philanthropist Dewey Sanders, Sherri Holly of Chico’s, attorney Jane Lane, jewelry designer Amanda Jaron and state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen. It was a who’s who of the Southwest Florida social swirl and a smashing evening. Guest and ACT supporter Susan Bennett described the gathering: “What a rare opportunity to see the Captiva home and studio of the late great Robert Rauschenberg. There was outstanding artwork everywhere—and so many great friends!”

The Hurricane Irma aftermath still lingers on so many levels when it comes to local fundraising events, but some nonprofits are making the best of it. For instance, when Community Cooperative had to cancel its signature event, Becoming Cosmopolitan with its glamorous Fire and Ice theme at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, organizers switched gears and expertly threw together a fun, casual event called Libations & Donations at downtown’s newest hot spot, The Social House (SoHo). There, a mini silent auction supported Community Cooperative’s efforts to feed hurricane victims. Instead of cocktail dresses and designer heels, guests showed up after work in business-casual attire for a festive, relaxed happy hour. There was legal eagle Jenna Persons; Rachel Peacock of WGCU; Broadway Palm’s Will Prather with his lovely girlfriend, Maureen Green; PR maven Sharon Torregrossa; and plenty more as the organization’s pros Tracey Galloway and Stefanie Ink-Edwards flitted about greeting supporters.

Morning radio host Drew Steele bowed out from KSL News Radio way up in Salt Lake City, and through a series of strange circumstances got his old job back at 92.5 Fox News. He admits the altitude did not agree with him, “but the biggest problem was being so far away.” Far away from their family both on the east coast in Jersey and here in Southwest Florida. “I just feel like this is home—this is it,” Drew remembers his wife, Brienne Steele, saying on a visit back here around Memorial Day. When their young son collapsed in the park with a serious concussion after running into another child, Brienne didn’t have anyone but her husband to call. He bolted from his job just an hour before going on the air to talk politics. “That was the pivotal moment where we said, ‘Yeah, we want to go back,” Drew told me. “We felt like this was the tug,” Drew explained. “When you have that kind of faith, you play along and see where you go.” Their move back coincided with the desire of Drew’s old employer, WFSX, to add more local programming. Former Congressman Trey Radel gets to sleep in now that he’s on in the afternoons from 5-7 p.m. with The Drive. Drew is once again host of Daybreak from 6-9 a.m. Who says you can’t come back home.

Speaking of back home, what a shock to run into Southwest Florida native and former NFL player Corey Lynch. Ten years ago, he blocked the kick against Michigan that allowed Appalachian State to pull off the biggest upset in college football history. After Hurricane Irma, I wasn’t at the anchor desk but instead out in Lehigh Acres assessing flooding. I saw a white pickup truck pull into our shot just seconds before going live on NBC2. “Hey Chad, it’s Corey,” the driver said through the window. He and a team from the relief agency Samaritan’s Purse were driving around looking for families in rough shape. He’s married to Cissie Graham Lynch, The Rev. Billy Graham’s youngest granddaughter. Her dad, Franklin Graham, is the president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse. Helping others is definitely all in the family.      

Irma delivered a blow to the early fall social calendar. My family looks forward to going to Waterside Shops in Naples and sampling the delectable offerings at Craving Fashion. This year, organizers canceled in the wake of the hurricane as did many other groups, including my forward-thinking friends at the Entrepreneur Society of America. They are already planning for the 2018 ESOA Epic Encounter at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club. We can all hope this season of fun and fundraising will make up for lost time.


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