Thankful For Community Leaders

Guest Correspondence

BY CHRISTINE ROBINSON SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY NOV 21, 2015

Sarasota’s history is rich with community leaders who transformed it into what we see today. Residents and visitors enjoy the wonderful features and amenities that make it such a coveted place to live, it’s hard to imagine what the future has in store. At the recent 14th annual Argus Lifetime Achievement awards, I found myself overwhelmingly proud to be a part of a community with such proven leadership on several levels. This has been demonstrated from our community’s early founders, and continues to this day. This year, our board chose to honor Reverend Don Roberts and T. Mabry Carlton. Each have given the community the gift of visionary leadership and a philanthropic spirit. 

Roberts led Goodwill Manasota from 1977 until his retirement in 2012. Under his leadership, the nonprofit powerhouse grew from three to 45 locations throughout Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Hardee counties. He applied business principles to a non-profit and served a public need. Not only did he grow the stores, but the former Argus President increased revenues by close to 100 percent and was responsible for creating thousands of jobs and housing countless during his tenure. 

T. Mabry Carlton, our posthumous honoree, was an eighth generation Floridian, rancher and notable Sarasota County philanthropist. The former Sarasota County Commissioner played a critical role in the County’s purchase of a 24,000-acre natural preserve that so many continue to enjoy today as the Mabry Carlton Memorial Reserve. This cattleman’s dedication to public service and his focus on water resources created a legacy that still stand the test of time. Of course, having two amazing daughters who have created public service and philanthropic legacies of their own was his ultimate gift to us.  

Both men left lasting impacts that will be remembered for years to come. As we honored them, I found myself looking around the room at the many modern community leaders and philanthropists and was humbled by the great responsibility we all share to care for this wonderful community. I was also moved by the number of young faces in the crowd and felt another responsibility of passing along the importance of legacy to the next generation. That was epitomized by a comment from Barbara Carlton. She noted how important it was for her grandchildren to be present to see Mabry honored 26 years after his death, and to understand his impact on the community. With young kids of my own, that statement stuck with me. What can we do today to ensure a rich, successful future that continues to honor our past? The answer, I believe, lies in her comment: Our community will continue to be great with the passing of this legacy of leadership onto the next generation. 

In a month when we are all concentrating on giving thanks, I am—among many other things—thankful to be part of a community like this one. With diverse voices all united in the common goal of moving forward proactively, we can impart this outlook to our children and grandchildren.

Christine Robinson is executive director for The Argus Foundation.

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