Skip to main content
Robin Hartill
Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013 4 years ago


by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor


Neighborhood: Spanish Main Yacht Club
Neighbors since: 2005

Tom Freiwald recently gave the commencement address for the University of Phoenix West Florida to a crowd of approximately 2,000 students and their families.
He told students about Dr. Ben Carson, who grew up in Detroit and became director of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University at age 33.
He told them that commencement wasn’t the end of anything, but rather, the beginning of everything. He encouraged students to go out there — and knock their socks off, before showing off his signature red
University of Phoenix socks.
Freiwald has taught at the University of Phoenix since 2008 and was recently named “Faculty Member of
the Year.”
The Spanish Main Yacht Club resident has a smaller audience when he speaks at community meetings and Longboat Key Town Hall. He started out in town politics when he reviewed the Public Works Department in 2010 for the Organizational Review Subcommittee. The next year, former Mayor George Spoll invited Freiwald to serve on the Longboat Key Revitalization Task Force.
Freiwald is part of a rare species — a Florida native who moved to Detroit. He grew up in Clearwater and used to visit his parents in the 1970s, after they bought a home in Country Club Shores.
His career included 30 years in the Detroit automotive industry with General Motors, Penske Corp., and DaimlerChrysler, that took him to Europe for six years and more than 90 countries.
Today, he serves as co-chairman of the Task Force and is also part of a new working group that met Monday, June 10, to form questions about Longboat Key’s future for an Urban Land Institute study.
Through the Task Force, Freiwald has worked on projects that include both a planning charette for the north end that New College professor Dr. David Brain oversaw, and a study of real-estate trends and their impacts on Longboat Key last year.
Freiwald’s message to Longboat Key residents is similar to the “knock their socks off” message he brought to grads recently.
“We have so much competition from other vacation spots,” Freiwald said. “If we get old and tired and our average age of residents keeps getting older, I think that’s a mistake.”
IN HIS OWN WORDS: “I want to live on a resort island, not a retirement island.” — Tom Freiwald



Related Stories