Social Studies: Dottie Baer Garner


Social Studies: Dottie Baer Garner


Date: April 24, 2013
by: Stephanie Hannum | Diversions Managing Editor




We lived in Charleston, W.Va., and when our children were younger, we used to vacation at the Colony. Shortly after our son Rob died, we moved here and it was such a good thing, because it’s been so rewarding for both of us. We love this community.

We have been in Sarasota full-time for 17 years. I feel when you make your money in the community, you give back to the community — my parents taught me that.

It seems when people move to Sarasota, no one brings their baggage — everyone comes seeking the good life. This community gave me the opportunity not to forget, but to move on in life, and I’ll be eternally grateful.

I’ve been on 10 boards in the community, three of which I’m still serving on. It feels so good to feel needed and wanted. I still have the capacity to make a difference.

When I was on the symphony board, Dr. David Klein was also serving on the board. His wife is a teacher at Juilliard in Manhattan and they were friendly with Itzak Perlman. Through David’s connection, the Perlman Music Program started, and he asked me to help get that organized and help it gain a presence in Sarasota. The program is going to celebrate its 10th year and I now serve as an honorary board member. It has such a fabulous educational component — that’s what it’s all about.

Human services and the arts are very important to Bob and me. I’m a ‘doer;’ I don’t expect other people to do.

After you do something for an organization, I feel it’s time to move on — change is healthy for the organization. All I truly care about is seeing it work and then moving on and letting someone else come along.

I still have that zest for living and contributing when I can. But eventually letting go and letting others come along, that’s what I think is called progress in the community.

We are so family oriented. One of my daughters and grandsons live in Sarasota. We have two daughters and four grandkids, ranging in age from 5 to 30. We don’t miss a holiday together; it is very important.

We are also very involved with our grandchildren. They got me on Facebook, and now I seem to be addicted. And I want to move with the times, so I’m also on Twitter. Even though I am the age I am, I don’t want to be left behind. I want to keep going as long as I can go and make a difference.

Bob and I will be married 60 years in December — in today’s society, that’s really a big deal. The secret to a happy marriage is respect. It’s a wonderful feat — life is definitely a journey.

Not only is this a special year for us, but I’m also having a special birthday. It’s a scary number, but I feel like I’ve packed in a lot of stuff in my years. I hope we continue to have the good life for as long as possible.

For my upcoming birthday, my husband surprised my two daughters and me with a cruise from France to Italy. We have never done this — I was so touched and so excited.

Some of my ‘long-term friends’ recently took me on a birthday excursion to visit the museums in St. Pete — BJ Creighton, Jennifer Saslaw and Elaine Keating and I met when we were on the Women’s Resource board 20 years ago. We are still the best of friends, and I treasure the friendships I’ve made through my organizational work.


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