Real estate company founder will be fifth recipient of Historical Society's award on March 20.
Michael Saunders didn't start a real estate business with the intent of making an impact on the history of Sarasota. She said she just wanted to make a difference.
On March 20, the Historical Society of Sarasota County will present the founder of Michael Saunders & Co., with the 2019 Hero of History Award to honor her work in Sarasota.
It's the fifth year of the award, given annually to a local figure known for their effect on the community. In 2018, Howard Tibbals was presented the award. Tibbals is an artist and sculptor who created The Howard Bros. Circus, a scale replica of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Saunders' family has owned land on Longboat Key since the 19th century, and she has been visiting Southwest Florida for all of her life. She began her real estate company in 1976, and it has grown into a billion-dollar business.
Marsha Fottler, the president of the Historical Society of Sarasota County, said the society has been around since 1947. Fottler said the society chose Saunders as the recipient of the award because, to the members of the society, real estate is the first line in history education.
"If you think about it, Realtors are the people who tell visitors about the history of the neighborhood, the history of the house and the significance of houses near them," Fottler said.
The purpose of the award is to honor people who are keeping and promoting history. Fottler said with the population ebbing and flowing in Sarasota all the time, it's important to continue to educate people on history.
"Part of our mission is to recognize people who have been important to Sarasota," Fottler said.
Saunders said receiving an award like this is a big surprise and it humbled her.
"I've always had sand in my shoes which was a prerequisite to living here," she said. "I have such a deep sense of community. History has always been fascinating to me, and it's wonderful to be celebrated."