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Longboat Key Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 8 months ago

Mimi Edlin remembered for social spirit

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Edlin, 93, died on Sept. 22.
by: Katie Johns Community Editor

Mimi Edlin’s den was brightly colored and decorated with trinkets from her many travels.

The room was often filled with friends, new and old, enjoying cocktails before one of Edlin’s famous Sunday dinners.

The room was a lot like Edlin herself. Vibrant, rich in stories and full of good company.

Mimi Edlin died Sept. 22. She was 93.

“Mimi was extremely friendly, and everyone knew who Mimi was, and she was a little person, but she had a big, well-known personality,” Jeanne Betty Weiner said.

Often spotted at events with unique hats atop her head, Edlin was seemingly everywhere. Between concerts and ballet and orchestra performances, her daughters often laughed that their mother was more active than they were.

Edlin was dedicated to the arts. She created “Mimi’s Challenge Grant” to raise funds for Ringling College of Art and Design and was honored with a plaque at the now-closed Longboat Key Center for the Arts. 

Edlin and her daughters established the Joseph J. Edlin Memorial Fund following her husband, Joe’s death and, later, she sponsored internships in his name for St. Louis and Sarasota Jewish publications. 

As Ringling College President Larry Thompson said, Edlin was the “pride and joy of Sarasota and Longboat Key.” Edlin was someone Thompson saw as instrumental in certain projects.

“She was someone who I got to know quite a bit, and I have to say that I just fell in love with her because she has so much energy and pep and just vigor, and she had an opinion for everything,” Thompson said.

And aside from her charitable efforts, Edlin was known for her inclusive and hospitable nature.

“She never left anyone out of anything,” her daughter Mari Edlin said. “She’d go somewhere, and she’d start talking to people who were new in town, and I swear she would invite them for dinner five days later.”

Mari Edlin said her mother had a knack for connecting people. Edlin raised her family in St. Louis and often, her daughters would come home from after-school activities to their peers sharing their problems with Edlin. She knew what her guests had in common so she could spark a conversation between them.

“We honestly thought that because of the energy she had, she’d be going on to 100, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the story,” Mari Edlin said.

In 1988, Edlin and Joe began vacationing on Longboat Key. In 1990, Joe died, and in 1991, Mimi Edlin ventured to Longboat alone. It was then that she met her partner, Alfred Ginewsky. From 1996 to 2008 Edlin lived on Longboat Key before moving to the Sarasota Bay Club. Ginewsky died in 2010, but Edlin continued on with her social spirit.

Sarasota Bay Club doesn’t serve dinner on Sundays, so Edlin took matters into her own hands and often played hostess to neighbors.

“She’d be walking down the hall and she would see people that were new and she’d say, ‘What are you doing for dinner?’ and she’d invited almost strangers, but so graciously, and you’d come and she’d have two tables and each table would hold maybe five or six [people], and Mimi had picked up a recipe somewhere because she wasn’t a great cook, but her heart was in it, and she loved doing it,” Weiner said.

Before dinner, cocktail hour began in the den, where so many got to know Edlin.

“You always had a smile when you saw Mimi,” Weiner said. “I wish I had spent more time with her.”

Edlin is survived by her three daughters; Jamie Edlin, Laura Wendel and Mari Edlin; their spouses; granddaughter Eliza Wendel; and sister-in-law Sybil Steinberg.

Donations can be made in Miriam S. Edlin’s name to the Ringling College of Art and Design at ringling.edu/advancement.

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