by Marsha Fottler, President
Marsha Fottler, current President of the Board of Directors, with Howard Rosenthal at the Historical Society of Sarasota County.
Our board was informed that Howard Rosenthal passed away on Wednesday night after a long illness due to heart problems and his need for a kidney transplant. His wife, Priscilla Waldron notified us.
Howard was a past president of this historical society, serving from 2011 to 2017 and he remained involved after his term by serving on the advisory board and by always being available to me, his successor, when I wanted to discuss some course of action or a proper interpretation of the bylaws.
Howard was a career lawyer and his reasoned approach to issues before our board was a hallmark of his tenure. He never said much at meetings, but listened as everyone else spoke. Then, he would sum up everything, give his opinion about what we should do and call for a vote and move on.
Howard joined HSOSC in 2009 after he and his wife Alice moved to Sarasota. Both he and Alice were Mensa members and loved history. Howard wanted to give tours of the Bidwell-Wood House and the Crocker Memorial Church and when he realized we did not have a formal docent program with a manual and a series of sessions for would-be guides, he promptly wrote the book and then taught the classes. To “graduate” each of us had to give a guided tour for him and the group with Howard making notes on both our stage performance and knowledge of the properties and of Sarasota history. He himself loved giving tours, enjoying the details as well as visually painting the picture of the evolution of the vintage properties. He had the proper experience. For many years Howard was an admired docent at the famed Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia. One year on a summer trip to Pennsylvania, my husband and I went to that museum/library, took the tour and mentioned Howard’s name. They knew him and had glowing things to say about his scholarship and his lively tours.
After Alice died, Howard remained with the organization serving on the board and moving into the presidency in 2011. Howard was an enthusiastic gourmet, loved trying new restaurants and he especially enjoyed our Holiday Party each December. He could always be relied upon for an impromptu restaurant review.
A few years ago, at a Mensa meeting, Howard met Priscilla Waldron and they were married at the Crocker Memorial Church on March 27, 2016. We think it was the first Jewish wedding in the building. They had a happy few years together, all the sweeter because their love and marriage were such a late life surprise to both of them.
Howard will be buried in New Jersey. He told Priscilla he didn’t want an obituary or a memorial service. He was a valuable board member and exemplary president of HSOSC and we miss him. But, the docent program he started and the good decisions he made have made HSOSC stronger and better.