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and were married in a modest ceremony fol- lowed by a small reception. Bob's career escalated; he became a senior executive with the company. Betty, always acting like first mate on a ship, maintained the house in fine order, making it comfortable for both of them. Flash forward to about 18 years ago. Bob took early retirement, they discovered stun- ning Sarasota and they moved to Siesta Key. We who live in Siesta Isles on that island are very fortunate for many reasons: The prop- erties are beautiful and well kept; we are within walking distance of Siesta Beach; and, most importantly, our neighborhood is an extraordinarily friendly one. Most of us live here year-round because we want to do so. Neighbors become friends very easily, and getting together for social occasions is quite common. I met Bob about 15 years ago when I was walking Pauly, my son's dog. I stopped to chat and admire work being done on his house. That single incident initiated what was to become a very close friendship between my husband and me and Bob and Betty. Our neighborhood's monthly gatherings for cock- tails and appetizers, hosted in homes on a rotating basis, also paved the way for all of us to connect. When you first meet Bob and Betty, you register many different facets of their per- sonalities, though they are both outgoing, friendly, warm, compassionate, smart and funny. Each of them has the essence of what constitutes a good person and a good friend. WHAT AN OCCASION! As their 50th wedding anniversary approached, they decided to renew their vows and then host a great celebration with their Sarasota friends. I like to refer to the occasion as their second wedding. The invitation to the event arrived about a month ahead of time, featuring their original wedding photo. It provided details of a soirée in a well-regarded, intimate Sarasota setting. I was thrilled. I had never been to a 50th anni- versary party before, but I knew Bob and Betty's would be the best … and it was. Cocktails were served at 6:30 p.m. followed by the vow renewal ceremony at 7:30, with dinner afterwards. It was a perfect Sarasota evening — blazing sun, low humidity and a gentle breeze. As we walked into the venue, we were greeted by the sounds of a DJ playing Sinatra tunes and then welcomed with hugs and kisses by the wedding couple. Practically before I could exhale, I had a glass of red wine in one hand and an incredible hors d'oeuvre in the other. On and on the scene repeated itself, with about 60 guests arriving. As more people showed up, more hugging ensued, with all of us saying how happy we were to be part of Bob and Betty's special occasion. By the time the DJ switched to bossa nova and played The Girl from Ipanema, I was totally in party mode. OPINION Sarasota News Leader May 16, 2014 Page 99

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