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Top Lakewood Ranch Realtor dies at 73

Jim Soda, who died at 73, had been one of the leading Realtors in Lakewood Ranch for two decades.


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Jim Soda, one of Lakewood Ranch's premier Realtors, died Monday after a long illness at the age of 73.

Longtime friend and fellow Realtor Matthew Sevarino said Soda was "basically the mayor of Lakewood Ranch."

"He was just extremely friendly and happy," Sevarino said. "He was the friendliest guy you could imagine, … extremely social and calm. He had been the leading Realtor in Lakewood Ranch for years."

Soda moved to Lakewood Ranch from Canfield, Ohio, in 2001 after building a hauling business. His wife Donna said her husband started the business with two trucks and grew it to more than 200 trucks.

It was no surprise to Donna that her husband became a "perennial leader" in the area's real estate industry. She said he was an incredible networker.

Donna and Jim Soda, who would have been married 29 years on Feb. 9, were best friends and partners, working together in the real estate industry. Donna and Jim Soda, and Sevarino had merged with Joel and Toni Schemmel in August of 2021 to form the Schemmel/Soda Group with Premier Sotheby's International Realty.

"Jim was, gosh, there is so much to say. He was just a great guy overall and he was a leader in the real estate community in Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota," Toni Schemmel said. "There always was a smile on his face. He had a really good sense of humor."

Toni Schemmel said she always could bounce ideas off Jim Soda because he was so knowledgable.

"The Soda name is synonymous with real estate in Lakewood Ranch," Toni Schemmel said. "They were proud of the business they have built."

He joined Premier Sotheby's International Realty in 2013.

Realtor.com lists Jim Soda, a University of Dayton graduate, as a former member of Prudential's Chairman's Platinum Circle, which placed him in the top 1% of agents nationwide for five consecutive years. He was in the top 100-selling Realtors in 2005-06.

Sevarino said Jim Soda was an avid golfer and a member of the Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club. Sevarino said that passion helped him to become an expert when it came to those who wanted to buy a home in a golf course community or near one.

A mass at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church will be held 10 a.m. Feb. 4. No other public services will be held. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations go to the V Foundation.