Lee Rothenberg served as the mayor of Longboat Key during his decades of public service on the island.
Lee Rothenberg had a passion for public service.
Whether it was attending Town Commission meetings or running them, the former mayor of Longboat Key had been involved in town workings for more than decade. He served on the Planning and Zoning Board from 1993 to 2004, when he was appointed to the Town Commission.
Residents voted him onto the Commission two more times until he was defeated in 2009, the year he served as mayor.
Rothenberg died July 27 in Cleveland after a brief illness. He was 92.
“He was a gentleman, and he was for the community all the time,” said Joan Webster, a former mayor of Longboat Key. Rothenberg served as her vice mayor and “he always would work to bring consensus among the commissioners. It was a real talent he had.”
Rothenberg watched Town Hall and the new police-and-fire stations be built and witnessed the growth of the tennis center, which he championed on the commission. "I wanted to call him Mr. Tennis, sometimes," Webster said.
The Cornell graduate served two years in the Navy during World War II and worked another 30 in New York working his way up the ladder of a machinery-manufacturing company.
In 1979, he moved to Chicago to take a job with a then-bankrupt company called International Honeycomb Corp. Within a couple of months, Rothenberg was named president, general manager and chief executive officer of the company, leading the paper-packaging company out of bankruptcy by improving efficiencies and developing new equipment.
Rothenberg retired in 1983, and after driving around Florida with his wife looking for a place to live, they settled on Longboat Key. They thought it was the perfect combination — beaches, scenery, community and housing.
“He was very involved in Longboat Key,” Webster said. “I think he’s one of the people we can credit making Longboat Key what it is.”
Rothenberg and his wife Frances sold their house on Longboat Key in 2013 and moved off the island to Freedom Village in Bradenton.
Rothenberg is survived by his wife, his sister, Jeanne Lott. Also by daughters, Linda (Stanley Stein) and Joanne (Robert Steinberg), stepchildren, William and Valerie. grandchildren, Pamela (Nick) and Claudia (Cameron) and great-granddaughter, Coraline.
Services were Monday in Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hasting on Hudson, NY.