Terry Gans believes you have to know where you have been to find out where you stand today.
“I wasn’t a very good student early on because I got bored easily,” Gans said. “I was more interested in checking out books from the library about history that I found fascinating than following a regimented curriculum.”
Armed with a master’s degree in history from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Gans was ready to obtain his doctorate and become a college history professor.
But history changed that.
As a graduate assistant, he frequently sat in on faculty senate meetings in 1970; he listened to professors discuss the Vietnam War protests.
“Attitudes displayed at a faculty meeting, for what happened at Kent State University, were so reactionary that it soured me on the professor path,” Gans said.
Gans reversed course. He took a job his stepfather offered him at the Landover, Md.,-based Giant Food Inc. supermarket chain.
Gans started writing the company’s manuals, writing speeches and, eventually, wrote the company’s quarterly and annual financial reports.
He retired from Giant Foods in 2000, as the company’s vice president of advertising. At the time of his retirement, after 30 years, Gans had a $60 million advertising budget and 120 employees.
When he was hired at Giant Foods in 1970, he spent countless hours reading up on the company’s history.
The research, Gans said, made him knowledgeable about the company and helped him produce better reports.
“It helped me discover what the store stood for and where it was headed,” Gans said.
It’s a skill Gans still uses today. For weeks, Gans has come into the Longboat Observer office to pick up archives. He’s reading them all, one-by-one, cover-to-cover.
“It appears the Key has had the same arguments over and over again,” Gans said. “It’s interesting to read how the residents put a Comprehensive Plan in place to ward off over-development. It worked for a time, but now it’s making it difficult to get anything redeveloped today.”
Gans names the looming code and Comp Plan change process as his No. 1 priority.
Gans said he has gotten involved and attended meetings everywhere he has lived. In 2009, he attended all of the Longboat Key Club and Resort application hearings.
Gans was a project supporter; his opponent, Irwin Pastor, opposed the application as the Islandside Property Owners Coalition vice-president.
Gans understands there’s a stark difference between him and his opponent.
“I find it ironic, though, that the same faction that said, ‘Respect the codes,’ is successful because a judge rendered a ruling which, in effect, says ‘Your codes are crap,’” said Gans, who believes IPOC was trying to impose property rights on parcels it didn’t own.
Asked why he chose to not just be a stop-gap commissioner when he took over the seat from Hal Lenobel, Gans says, “I became satisfied it was possible I could make a contribution. We are in the middle of good work for this island, and I would like to keep it going.”
Asked how the Key keeps going, Gans is quick to respond.
“The only way we go downhill as an island is if we let ourselves go downhill,” Gans said. “Whether we want to be or not, we are in competition with other communities. The good get better and the bad get worse. We will be attractive only as long as we deserve to be.”
Former occupation: Retired grocery-store chain executive
Family: Wife, Diane; two sons; and three grandsons
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Hobbies: Music, reading, movies and golf
Interesting fact: Gans wrote his master’s thesis on Bob Dylan. The thesis was published in 1982, making Gans a published author. He got paid for the printing of 200 copies.