Ed and Pat Zunz were on vacation in the 1980s, driving from Orlando to Sanibel, when Ed got bored.
So he pulled out a map in search of a more appealing journey.
“Look at this place here: There’s this scenic route that you go off onto this island and you go all the way down this island and come out the other end,” he told his wife. “I’m so bored with this Route 41, let’s see what this scenic route is.”
“We’ve had a good life, so you think you owe things back to the community — we’ve always tried to make good on that.”
It was Longboat Key.
Now, some four decades later, the more than 20-year Lands End resident has qualified as a candidate for the 2018 District 5 Town Commission seat.
Zunz, the town’s 81-year-old vice mayor, has represented Longboat’s northernmost district since 2016, succeeding his wife, who decided not to run for re-election after five years on the commission.
“When she decided to give it up, I said, ‘Geez, you’ve been having a good time doing this, why don’t I take a shot at it,’ “ Zunz said.
The couple, married for 57 years this month, tied the knot just after Ed Zunz graduated from Columbia University’s law school. They’d only been dating for two months: “It just seemed to work,” Zunz said.
Part of that was Pat Zunz’s job at a publishing house in New York, where she made enough to supplement Ed’s clerkship income of $60 a week.
He’d landed a job in 1961 at Riker Danzing Law Firm in Newark, N.J., where he spent his entire career and eventually rose to become a senior partner and the firm’s chairman of commercial litigation, overseeing some 70 lawyers and personally representing major corporations such as Johnson and Johnson, IBM and Prudential Insurance Co.
All his success grew from a passion sparked in an Introduction to Legal Method course at Columbia, Zunz said. It changed his way of thinking, he said, and gave him an excuse for always being a slow reader.
“From that day forward, I could never read anything the same way again,” Zunz said. “It just made you so much more critical and more careful in your reading, so it was a real transformation for me.”
He carried this careful thinking with him in many of his ventures and almost always sought ways to serve outside of his firm. He was chairman of the New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners and president of the Lands End Condo Association.
And for the past couple of years, he’s volunteered as a reading buddy for kindergarten through third-grade children at the Bradenton Dream Center.
Ed and Pat Zunz are no strangers to Longboat governance. Ed Zunz has followed his wife’s lead in serving on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. and now as a Longboat commissioner.
“We’ve had a good life, so you think you owe things back to the community — we’ve always tried to make good on that,” he said.