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Plymouth Harbor's special edition 50th anniversary book.

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Published by Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay, 2016-09-22 08:16:56

The Story of Plymouth Harbor

Plymouth Harbor's special edition 50th anniversary book.



The Story of Plymouth Harbor

T H E STO RY O F P LYM O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 –2 0 1 6 1

Copyright 2016 Plymouth Harbor, Inc. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means including but
not limited to electronic or digital means, mechanical or electronic photography or photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the
prior written permission of Plymouth Harbor, Inc. You may obtain such permission by contacting Plymouth Harbor, Inc. at Office of the

President/CEO, 700 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34236.

Plymouth Harbor, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation which operates as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) regulated under Chapter 651, Florida Statutes.

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Our Mission
Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay is a church-sponsored,
not-for-profit community of distinction for older adults
committed to providing the most positive aging experience

possible for its residents.

Our Vision
To be the Life Plan Community of choice.

Our Core Values
We build inclusive relationships and a sense of community

through trust and open communications. We encourage
cooperation through collaboration and the respectful
sharing of ideas and beliefs. We exhibit integrity and

honesty in all dealings. We encourage innovation and ensure
excellence through high quality standards. We emphasize
a holistic approach; supporting resident independence by
celebrating individuality and treating people with dignity.
We recognize the importance of preparedness and are
committed to providing a safe and secure
environment for all constituents.

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The story of Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay is a celebration of
the past, an appreciation of the present, and an envisioning of the
future. Spanning over five decades, from its founding in 1966 to
today, these pages are a compilation of the memories, triumphs,
challenges, dreams, and accomplishments of the people of
Plymouth Harbor.

For those new to Plymouth Harbor, this book will be an
opportunity to learn of its origins and remarkable growth. For
others, it will be a path to shared experiences. For all, it will
provide a testament to the living, breathing, and ever-changing
miracle that is Plymouth Harbor.

Special thanks go out to the Plymouth Harbor staff, residents,
trustees, and supporters who provided treasured photos,
historical documents, and most importantly, personal memories
for this book.

Editors: Joan E. Collier, Kathy Messick
Design: Artefact Design, Inc.
Photographers: Brian Beecher, Herb Booth, Jennifer Bruneman,
Yaima Comas, Gordon Okawa, Phil Starr, Greg Wilson

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Acknowledgements 2

Letter from G. Duncan Finlay, M.D., 5
Chair, Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees

Letter from Harry E. Hobson, 6
President and CEO, Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay

Letter from Cade D. Sibley, 8
Chair, Plymouth Harbor Foundation Board of Trustees

Letter from Thomas Elliott, 10
President, Plymouth Harbor Residents Association



OUR FIRST DECADE: From Drawing Board to Reality 20

OUR SECOND DECADE: A Period of Growth 26

OUR THIRD DECADE: Renovations and Innovations 32

OUR FOURTH DECADE: Fulfilling Our Mission 38

OUR FIFTH DECADE: Investing in Our Future 44

OUR NEXT DECADE: Expanding Our Mission 55

Campus Amenities 60
The MacNeil Chapel 62
Plymouth Harbor Residences 64
Assisted Living: The Callahan Center 66
The Jack A. Smith Care Center 67
Community Impact 69

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4 T H E STO RY O F P LYM O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 –2 0 1 6

G. Duncan Finlay, M.D., chair of the plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees

My message to you is about community. of Trustees. I had the opportunity to observe the
Whether we call our organization a Plymouth Harbor administrative team from the seat
Continuing Care Retirement Community, of administrator of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and
or the new Life Plan Community, the in my current role, I have the opportunity to learn
operative word is still community. It is firsthand about Plymouth Harbor’s reputation around
a tribute to The Rev. Dr. MacNeil and the state and across the nation.
the founders, particularly the architects,
whose vision created Plymouth Harbor and That view has been one of great admiration for the
whose design emphasized its function as a community and its location, the medical care provided
community. in the Smith Care Center, the administration and staff,
and most importantly, the residents themselves and
We have long known that mental activity, physical their lives of great accomplishment. I even have two
activity, and healthy eating enhance successful aging. former patients who reside there as well as numerous
We now understand that community, the interaction friends and colleagues.
and mutual interest with others, is just as important,
and that is what sets us apart. It is vitally important I believe the future is bright for Plymouth Harbor.
that we continue to make that a recognized feature and Let me assure you that your Board of Trustees is
goal of living at Plymouth Harbor. highly experienced, comprised of respected leaders,
and deeply engaged in oversight of the present and
I arrived in Sarasota in 1972 and started practice on planning for the future of Plymouth Harbor. We pledge
St. Armands Key. As a result, I have had the privilege you our service and caring, now and in the years to
of viewing Plymouth Harbor over a 44-year span as come.
a casual observer, a medical provider for residents,
and now as Chair of the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board To our residents, old and new, I ask you to be engaged,
to be a real part of our community. It will make us all

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As the President and CEO of Plymouth Since our founding in 1966, Plymouth Harbor
Harbor on Sarasota Bay for 12 years now, continues to attract quality residents, both nationally
I continue to be impressed with the vision and internationally, who bring a variety of interests
of our founder, The Rev. Dr. John Whitney to our community. It has evolved with the times
MacNeil, with each passing year. to remain at the forefront of our industry and is
recognized as an employer of choice in the region.
Plymouth Harbor is a fascinating story of a man’s vision As President and CEO, I feel fortunate to lead such a
and leadership that ignited the passion of others to distinguished organization through the many awards
create a community for older adults where they could and recognitions it has received, not only in my tenure,
live, grow, and age with both grace and dignity—and I but over the last 50 years.
can confidently say that his vision continues today.
We will always be indebted to the efforts and
Plymouth Harbor opened its doors on January 15, 1966, dedication of our founder. We also recognize the
after five years of planning by The Rev. Dr. MacNeil and support The Rev. Dr. MacNeil received from his loving
a group of volunteers, most of whom were associated wife, Judith, a current resident of Plymouth Harbor.
with the First Congregational UCC in Sarasota. They
were committed to developing a national model for While honoring The Rev. Dr. MacNeil, we have our
the best in retirement living. Today, as we celebrate sights firmly set on the future. We are committed to
our 50th Anniversary, Plymouth Harbor is one of the carrying on Plymouth Harbor’s tradition of excellence,
nation’s most outstanding Life Plan Communities, with with a full continuum of the finest health care services.
award-winning architecture, a spectacular waterfront To do so, we recognize that we must continue to
location, and an unparalleled reputation. This is change with the times and make the investment in
evidenced by our many best practice recognitions and, ourselves as The Rev. Dr. MacNeil did 50 years ago.
most recently, by our Smith Care Center receiving
the Governor’s Gold Seal Award for Excellence, which This year, we commemorate a spectacular 50 years by
is awarded to less than 5 percent of Florida’s skilled celebrating our past and envisioning our future, and
nursing facilities. we look toward another prosperous, rewarding, and
exciting 50 years at Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay.

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The Plymouth Harbor, inc. Board of Trustees

The Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of
Trustees was established in 1961, at the
inception of Plymouth Harbor, to help
guide the leadership of Plymouth Harbor.
Members of the board serve three-year
terms, and may serve two consecutive
terms. Terms are renewed each January.

Chairs: 1961–1965 The 2016 Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees. Back row, from left: Alan B. Grindal, M.D., Mary
Everett C. Andrews 1965–1968 Allyn, G. Duncan Finlay, M.D., Ambassador James D. McGee, Cindy Malkin, William Woeltjen,
Claude A. Cook 1968–1969 Harry E. Hobson, Brian D. Hall, John M. Cranor, III, Sarah H. Pappas, Ed.D., Kathryn Angell Carr, and
Homer B. Myers 1969–1977 Jon F. Swift. Front row, from left: Nora Patterson, Terry Aldrich, Dale N. Woodling, Lee DeLieto, Sr.,
Guy A. Durgan 1977–1986 and Cade D. Sibley. Not pictured: Thomas Elliott, Wendy Underwood.
Homer B. Myers 1986–1989
William H. Gauldin, Jr. 1989–1992 T H E STO RY O F P LYM O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 –2 0 1 6 7
Robert E. Perkins 1992–1994
Robert F. Quimby 1994–1995
David Mitchell 1995–1997
Donald E. Nolt 1997–1998
Kenneth Bailey 1998–2000
Kathleen Toale 2000–2002
Clint Monts de Oca 2002–2005
Susan Scott 2005–2007
John C. Patterson 2007–2008
Roy E. Dean 2008–2009 *
Larry Ream 2009*–2011
Carla Plush Smith 2011–2015
F. Thomas Hopkins 2015–Present
G. Duncan Finlay, M.D.

* The 2009 transition occurred in September

Cade d. Sibley, Chair, The Plymouth Harbor Foundation

I am honored to have been asked to It is a privilege to be able to give back to Plymouth
serve as Chair of The Plymouth Harbor Harbor through The Plymouth Harbor Foundation,
Foundation Board and to participate in the which was established in 2012 to support the
celebration of Plymouth Harbor’s 50th charitable mission of Plymouth Harbor Inc. The
Anniversary. Foundation is currently able to support and expand
Plymouth Harbor’s capital projects and further the
Plymouth Harbor holds a special place in my heart charitable giving that impacts the lives of our residents
as my parents, Jack Denison and the late Teasley and our employees.
Denison, have been residents of Plymouth Harbor for
20 years. That was the gift they gave to me and my The wonderful legacy created by our founders,
brothers, and it is my honor to serve the Plymouth complemented by the efforts of donors and volunteers,
Harbor community today. The friendships my parents will assure that Plymouth Harbor will continue to thrive
made and the incomparable care that has been given until we celebrate our 100th Anniversary and beyond.
them says everything about what Plymouth Harbor has
meant over the years to so many of our residents and
the community at large.

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The Plymouth Harbor Foundation Board of Trustees

The Plymouth Harbor Foundation Board
of Trustees was established in 2012 to
further ensure the appropriate stewardship
of contributed funds, to implement
fundraising strategies that support the
most positive aging experience possible,
and to provide funding for innovative aging
services and programs. Members of the
board serve three-year terms, and may
serve two consecutive terms. Terms are
renewed each January.

Chairs: 2013–2016 The 2016 Plymouth Harbor Foundation Board of Trustees.
William R. Johnston 2016–Present Back row, from left: Bruce Crawford, Rebecca Levy-Sachs, Phil Starr, Garry Jackson, Tom Towler,
Cade D. Sibley William R. Johnston, and Jay Price. Front row, from left: Harry E. Hobson, Lee Byron, and Cade D.
Sibley. Not pictured: Lee DeLieto, Sr., and Tom Hopkins.

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Today I am filled with pride to represent Directors is made up of an Executive Council and the
the residents of this great establishment as officers of each of the 11 colonies, and the chairpersons
we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our of each of the more than 20 committees. The Executive
founding. Council includes the president, vice president, past
president, treasurer, secretary and associates for
My mother’s mother and father, the Mays, became colonies, committees, and individuals. The first three
residents here in the late 60s and lived here the rest of officers are voting members of the Plymouth Harbor,
their lives. It was soon after they arrived that I visited Inc. Board of Trustees. A critical function of the
Plymouth Harbor for the first time. I remember being association is to promote two-way communication
impressed with the beauty of the building inside and among residents, and between residents and Plymouth
out, the prize-winning grounds, lush and manicured, the Harbor employees at all levels—including management
birds, and the spectacular views in all directions. In the and even trustees.
70s my parents, Mary Virginia and Paul, bought a condo
across the street, and I began to visit more frequently. In Typically, people move from one position to another
the 80s my parents became residents here. every couple of years, greatly broadening their
understanding of the inner workings of our home. This
As I aged and progressed in my career I began to practice builds their relationships with other residents
appreciate more and more the complexity and and with members of the management team. Most
challenges that a growing Life Plan Community (in those importantly it creates opportunity for members not
days, a Continuing Care Retirement Community) faced, just to participate, but to contribute—not just to know
as well as the vision and courage of the founders. How what’s going on, but to see clearly how it relates to
fortunate we all are that they made excellent decisions them. Working (and playing) together promotes caring
one after another, year after year, and continue to do so. and friendships, and eases consensus building. It
facilitates continuous improvement through a culture of
The Residents Association, a longstanding volunteer excellence, and that is what we are all about, after all.
organization, comprises all residents of Plymouth
Harbor who have paid their $1 annual dues. Its Board of Congratulations to us, to residents, management, and
trustees, past, present, and future. On to the next 50

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the Plymouth Harbor Residents Association

The Plymouth Harbor Residents Association was established
early in 1966, after Plymouth Harbor first opened its doors. The
Association was formed to serve the common interests of all
residents and to promote mutual understanding and cooperation
between the residents, administration, and the Board of Trustees.
Presidents of the Residents Association now serve a term of two
years, and members renew their terms each April.

PRESIDENTS: 1967–1968 Elizabeth D. Johnston 1993–1994 The 2016–2017 Plymouth Harbor Residents Association
Herbert Stoetzel 1968–1969 Charles B. Fontaine 1994–1995 Executive Council. Back row, from left: Norma Schatz, Aubie
John Dennis 1969–1970 Albert G. Moore 1995–1996 Coran, and Carolyn Albrecht. Front row, from left: Sallie Luebbe,
Herbert Stoetzel 1970–1970 Donald Price 1996–1998 Thomas Elliott, Terry Aldrich, and Addie Hurst. Not pictured:
Frank Whelan 1970–1972 Charles Esler 1998–2000 Wendy Underwood.
Norman Abel 1972–1973 Augustus Knight 2000–2002
Helen Bragdon, Jean Steve Osterweis 2002–2003
1973–1974 George Ives 2003–2005
Collins & Franklin Wallin 1974–1978 Norma Compton 2005–2007
Franklin Wallin 1978–1980 Bill Seiberling 2007–2009
Arthur Callahan 1980–1981 Jack Denison 2009–2010
Irene Carn 1981–1982 Nancy Cook 2010–2011
Fredus Peters, Jr. 1982–1984 Larry Coffey 2011–2012
William Johnston 1984–1986 Ellen Harrison 2012–2013
Louis Newman 1986–1988 George Peters 2013–2013
John Aufhammer 1988–1990 Mary Allyn 2013–2015
Bruce Lourie 1990–1992 Terry Aldrich 2015–2016
Junius F. Allen 1992–1993 Thomas Elliott 2016–Present
Richard M. Service
Melvin O. Johnson

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A Vision is Born

❝John MacNeil was John Whitney As a youth, his family encouraged church going. The
MacNeil was influence of his ministers was an important factor in
truly a man who loved born in Chelsea, his life. One of them encouraged him to attend Bangor
people and related Massachusetts, on Theological Seminary in Bangor, Maine. At Bangor, one
to people, and he May 29, 1911. At age was able to obtain a theological education without a
radiated in terms of five he developed B.A. degree.
whooping cough,
his own Christian faith. which left him with His first church work was as the student pastor at
Having had suffered asthma. He was Bangor’s All Souls Congregational Church. There was
a lot of adversity, it about 5’7” tall with a small frame and a young lady in the choir named Judith Robinson. A
strengthened rather fine features. Although he attended Mt. spark ignited, and several years later Judith became
than weakened him. Hermon Academy, he did not have a high Mrs. John MacNeil.
school diploma. In the hopes that a milder
❞—The Rev. Dr. Jack A. Smith, former climate would suit him better, he went to Conscious that he did not have a B.A. degree, the young
Executive Director of Plymouth Biltmore Junior College in Asheville, North man went to Bates College for several semesters. He
Harbor Carolina. Eventually, he returned to the was accepted at Bowdoin College in 1943, graduated in
Boston area where he worked at various 1944 with a degree in history, and was ordained.
jobs selling insurance and jewelry, and
serving as a bill collector. Over the years, the now-Rev. Dr. MacNeil accepted
ever-increasing leadership positions at Congregational
churches in Massachusetts. In 1957, the small and new
congregation in Sarasota was seeking a minister. George
Collins was chairman of the pulpit committee. John
MacNeil’s name came to the attention of the pulpit
committee, and shortly thereafter he accepted the call
to the First Congregational United Church of Christ.

The Rev. Dr. MacNeil quickly became a moving force in
his new community and throughout Florida, serving on
numerous and varied religious and civic organizations.

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Not content solely with building the congregation
and the program of the church, The Rev. Dr. MacNeil
had a vision. He was aware of the efforts by others to
start a college in Sarasota. One night he sat up in bed
and said: “It’s not right for us not to have a college of
quality and I’m going to do something about it.”

New College of Florida was born. The Rev. Dr. MacNeil had to have new goals. Establishing a retirement Aerial view of Bird Key,
was deeply involved in its establishment through his community was next. March 14, 1961, records of Coon Key, Lido Key, and
service as first, a member of a chamber committee the church contain a motion passed by The Retired St. Armands Key prior to
established to bring a college to Sarasota, then his Community Planning Committee, consisting of five
leadership in reaching out to the Board of Home church members and The Rev. Dr. MacNeil. It was here construction.
Missions (BHM) of the Congregational and Christian that the Plymouth Harbor Board of Trustees was born,
Churches, which had as part of their mission funding and one of the five members, Everett C. Andrews, was
for the establishment of new colleges. elected Chair. Together, the new board established
the purpose of the retirement home: “that we might
The Rev. Dr. MacNeil promptly got in touch with promote the welfare of persons of moderate income.”
denominational officials of the state and of the
denomination headquartered in New York City. He Plymouth Harbor, even though it was not yet named,
presented the case that our denomination had founded was born. The Rev. Dr. John Whitney MacNeil had
Harvard; Yale; Dartmouth; Mount Holyoke, the first been in town less than four years.
college for women; Oberlin, the first co-educational
college in the world; Rollins College; and the University
of California. The United Church of Christ announced
support for New College of Florida in the amount of
$100,000 to begin and $50,000 a year for ten years.

Someone once said that The Rev. Dr. MacNeil would —Excerpted from the writings of The Rev. Dr. Jack A.
never reach the peak of his ambitions, as he always Smith, Plymouth Harbor Executive Director, 1971–1989

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Plymouth Harbor’s The Sarasota City An agreement The first administrative
first organizational Commission passed was reached for employees were hired:
meeting convened an ordinance rezoning Alan Switzer, Administrator
the purchase Margaret Wierts-Parrinello, Secretary
at the First Coon Key on of the Coon Key Raymond Randall, Engineer
Congregational June 19, 1962. Cynthia Harris, Accounting
United Church of property for
Christ on March 14, The name $300,000. On July 4, 1964 an
Plymouth Harbor official groundbreaking
was chosen. ceremony took place.
1962 1963 1964 1965

Martin Luther King, Jr. On March 8, 1965
delivered his “I have the first U.S.
a dream” speech on combat troops
August 28, 1963. arrived in Vietnam.

On August 13, On November 22,
1961 the Berlin Wall 1963, President
was constructed. John F. Kennedy was
assassinated in
Dallas, Texas.

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A Dream Realized

As with most wondrous things, Plymouth ❝John was a man of
Harbor began with a dream. A dream of
one man, John Whitney MacNeil, realized vision. We would come
through the efforts of many. out every day to see it
being built. There were
More than 50 years ago, in the winter of 1961, The lots of bumps along the
Rev. Dr. John Whitney MacNeil, senior minister of the road, but people put
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Sarasota, their shoulder to the
woke his wife, Judith, with a 4:00 a.m. announcement: wheel and got it done.
“Our church is going to build a retirement community John never lived here,
of distinction.” Mrs. MacNeil, a woman of uncommon but I live here now. It
wisdom and humor, murmured, “Yes, dear. Now go has come full circle.
back to sleep.”
❞—Mrs. Judith MacNeil Merrill
Mrs. MacNeil’s understated response belied her deep and made his pitch. Well aware of his record of “dream
understanding of her husband’s concern about the it, then do it,” church leaders quickly united behind
isolation he saw among the many older couples and him, lending spiritual and moral support. Members
singles migrating to Sarasota, far from family and of his local Congregational Church rallied around just
longtime friends. The Rev. Dr. MacNeil’s dream was as quickly, drawn to his vision and energized by his
to provide a place for them to live and thrive, within personality. Church member Dr. George Baughman,
a community of new friends, enjoying fellowship, who had worked with The Rev. Dr. MacNeil during the
hobbies, shared interests, and loving care when founding of Sarasota’s New College of Florida, was an
needed. early trustee of Plymouth Harbor. He was a believer in
a quote by famed architect Daniel Hudson Burnham:
While he may have been a fine dreamer, he was also an “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s
excellent “doer.” The morning after his epiphany, The
Rev. Dr. MacNeil telephoned national church officials

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 15

The meaning behind Plymouth Harbor

Some corporation monikers are simply
a construction of letters, designed by a
committee for mass appeal. Others find
their sources in fiction, location, or history.
Plymouth Harbor’s was a combination of
its location on the water, albeit far from
its namesake, and its vision of living in
fellowship with one another.

The name was prescient the lowest floor, houses events within Plymouth discussions. Each colony administration and the
and gave rise to one of comfortable couches, Harbor. It is a democratic also elects a Director Plymouth Harbor, Inc.
the favored aspects of life chairs, and tables for process that provides and Associate Director Board of Trustees for the
at Plymouth Harbor, the gatherings. Mezzanines an arena for residents to serve on the Residents betterment of all.
colonies. In a unique and on the upper two floors to ask questions, Association’s Board
revolutionary concept, provide a bird’s eye view provide feedback, and of Directors, whose
Plymouth Harbor was of the lounge area. Colony engage in often-spirited members work with the
designed with a series residents determine the
of neighborhoods within style of décor, so each
its 25 floor Tower. presents its own special
Deemed “colonies,” these flair.
neighborhoods establish
a sense of belonging and In addition to its social
intimacy. agenda, the colonies
serve a practical purpose.
Every three floors of Regular colony meetings
apartments face a are held, where members
common area that, on get the latest news on

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blood.” Dr. Baughman laughingly acknowledged that
they needed the magic because they didn’t have any
money. They also didn’t have any land.

The Rev. Dr. MacNeil and his small band of visionaries
considered several locations in Sarasota and nearby
keys, finally settling on 17-acre Coon Key. Surrounded by
mangroves and the bay waters, the unspoiled property
was host to birds and native wildlife. It also provided an
absolutely stunning panorama of sea and sky.

With the site firmly in mind, there were only two
obstacles: The land was owned by the Arvida
Corporation, a large development company, and the
group had no money.

The Rev. Dr. MacNeil and his supporters somehow The Rev. Dr. MacNeil and his group of visionaries discuss plans for Plymouth Harbor.
convinced Arvida that Coon Key was worthless,
with its low elevation making it prone to flooding,
its zoning-prohibitive nature, and the laying-in of
utilities an impossible challenge. Eventually, Arvida
Chairman Arthur Vining Davis agreed to sell Coon Key
for $300,000. Victory! However, the group still had
no money, except for the $50 each of the five board
members had donated as a starter fund.

While the national Congregational Church in New York
City continued to lend its name and prestige to the

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 17

Homer B. Myers, a longtime friend
and supporter of Plymouth Harbor

Homer B. Myers was a ensure necessary zoning ❝I was living in Sarasota project, it lent not a penny in financial wherewithal.
local Sarasota banker and changes were made For financial support, The Rev. Dr. MacNeil looked
a member of the First through Sarasota City when Plymouth Harbor to his many successful friends within the Sarasota
Congregational United Manager Ken Thompson, was being built. It community.
Church of Christ in an old college friend. was an amazing
Sarasota. He was a large Mr. Myers went on to Early money is always the hardest. Sarasota banker
supporter of Plymouth serve as Chair of the operation at the time, Homer B. Myers, a member of the local church, an
Harbor. In addition to Plymouth Harbor, Inc. and remains so. It is early supporter, and later board member, and still later,
loaning the group funds, Board of Trustees, first a landmark building a resident of Plymouth Harbor, stepped up. “He loaned
Mr. Myers used his in 1968-1969, and again within our community, us money as if we had money,” recalled Dr. Baughman.
ties to members of the from 1977 until 1986.
community to help the Eventually, he himself with a marvelous The group now had the land and the money. The
organization succeed. became a resident of setting. It’s a little piece name and campus were yet to come. With deed
Following the purchase Plymouth Harbor. and mortgage firmly in hand, Plymouth Harbor’s
of the land, he helped of paradise. founders now had to deal with other practical matters.
Unfortunately, the problems they presented to Arvida
❞—Roy Dean, Former Chair, Plymouth in negotiating a favorable price—low elevation, zoning,
Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees and utilities—were now theirs.

Zoning restrictions were the most pressing problem.
The existing 35-foot height limit severely shortened
the vision of the founders. Many Sarasota residents
were already upset by the dredging and filling that
had recently been undertaken to form the residential
community of nearby Bird Key (coincidentally, an
Arvida project). The Rev. Dr. MacNeil and his friends
did not think the community would view kindly the
zoning changes required to build the Plymouth Harbor

18 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

campus they envisioned. They needed to maintain a One of the first models of the
low profile and keep public discussion to a minimum. Plymouth Harbor property is

The rezoning petition was considered by the Sarasota floor a week,” Mr. Smith said. Upon completion, the
City Commission and Planning Board as required, and tower had 343 apartments. The total cost, including
Plymouth Harbor continued on a fast track through the land, construction, and architects’ and contractors’
design and building process. Determined that residents fees, was $5 million (about $10.75 per square foot).
have the opportunity to thrive in a communal setting
while retaining their privacy, The Rev. Dr. MacNeil The project, which pioneered the use of architectural
had toured other retirement communities across concrete in Florida, has won numerous design awards,
the country for inspiration on what to do—and what including the Florida Association of the American
not to do. No long, dark corridors with anonymous Institute of Architects’ Test of Time Award.
closed doors one after the other for Plymouth Harbor.
The Rev. Dr. MacNeil was determined not to have an
institutional, hard, or unfeeling design.

Working with local architects Louis F. Schneider and
Frank Folsom Smith, The Rev. Dr. MacNeil’s vision
was realized in a 25 story tower that made full use
of the outside views, with a footprint sensitive to its
surroundings. “We could have dredged and created a
landfill, but we determined we would not fill the bay,”
Mr. Smith recalled. “We were very careful with the

Once designed, an official groundbreaking ceremony
took place on July 4, 1964. The Tower was built in 16
months—an extraordinary pace. “Basically, we did one

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 19



On January 15, Plymouth Longtime Discussions began The Chapel In December, Resident Residents were Residents Residents saw
1966 Plymouth Harbor held its Plymouth Harbor concerning the location was The Rev. Dr. Jack representatives concerned with contributed a need, and in
Harbor opened dedication on supporter Homer Helen Bragdon the ad valorem money for the addition to raising
May 26, 1967. construction of a designated A. Smith was and Jean Collins purchase of a their monthly
its doors B. Myers was second tower and in response approved as started to attend tax situation. new Volkswagen
and the first The Residents elected Chair to residents’ Administrator. A proposal to bus. Voluntary costs, they
Association was of the Board of a new infirmary. requests for a the meetings have residents contributions donated funds to
residents permanent locale. of the Board of on old contracts continued for ad improve Plymouth
moved in. established. Trustees. The four make voluntary valorem taxes.
penthouses in Trustees. contributions was Harbor’s public
1966 1967 the Tower were implemented. areas.


1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975

Medicare began Thurgood Marshall On April 4, 1968, Apollo 11 was the Four students were A ceasefire was Richard Nixon
on July 1, 1966. was sworn in as Martin Luther first spaceflight killed by National signed, ending became the only
As a senior officer the first black U.S. King, Jr. was that landed Guards at Kent the involvement President to resign,
of the Blue Cross Supreme Court assassinated. Americans Neil State in Ohio. of American as a result of the
Association, Justice. Armstrong and ground troops in Watergate scandal.
George Heitler, Buzz Aldrin on the the Vietnam War.
now a Plymouth moon.
Harbor resident,
had a hand in New inventions:
drafting both email and CAT
Medicare and the scans.
Federal Employees
Health Benefits

20 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

O UR F IRS T D E C A D E An aerial view of the Plymouth
Harbor Tower and East and
From Drawing Board to Reality West Gardens. The four
penthouses in the Tower were
In January 1966, Plymouth Harbor’s first not completed until 1969.
residents moved in. Those “pioneers” were
met with no phone service, no dining hall, T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 21
lots of dust and construction debris, and a
small but determined staff.

Alan Switzer, the first Administrator, was the former
manager of The Parker House in Boston. In a decision
he may or may not have come to regret, he chose to
both run and live at Plymouth Harbor.

“It was a zoo,” remembered Margaret Wierts-
Parrinello, the first employee hired by The Rev. Dr.
MacNeil back in July 1965. He was a good judge of
people: Mrs. Wierts-Parrinello remained at Plymouth
Harbor for over 20 years, finally retiring in 1988.

“We only had certification to open the East and West
Gardens and the first three floors,” she remembered.
“We had to find places for them [residents] to live
in hotels because their apartments weren’t ready.
We also had to take them out to eat, because the
restaurant and dining hall were not finished.”

One of the tower’s design elements, the tall front doors,
posed an unexpected problem early on. “Sometimes
in bad weather we couldn’t open the doors because

❝. . . people were moving the winds were so strong,” Mrs. Wierts-Parrinello The first signage installed on the Plymouth Harbor property
said. Plymouth Harbor quickly had a revolving door
in at all hours and days constructed between the two main doors. minister in the Florida Conference of the United Church
. . .they just showed up, of Christ, was selected as the second Administrator. In
Although initially hired as a secretary, she quickly addition to his work in the church, The Rev. Dr. Smith
often with birds took on any and all duties that came her way. Mrs. had a business degree and administrative experience.
and animals. Wierts-Parrinello had to make copies of information He worked closely with the trustees and residents to
for residents, waiting list reports, trustee materials, all put Plymouth Harbor on a sound financial basis. He
❞—Margaret Wierts-Parrinello with a hand-operated mimeograph machine. “Biggest notably remarked, “Special mention should be given to
mess you ever saw,” she said. trustees Homer Myers, Jack Gordon, Bill Gauldin, and
Bob Perkins, likewise to residents Edward G. Lowry,
“No one had a private office back then,” Mrs. Wierts- Jr., Arthur Callahan, Larry Doyle, and Bruce Lourie. Mr.
Parrinello recalled. “We were out there in the open Lowry, a Rhodes Scholar, Harvard graduate, and retired
before God and everybody. People would just walk president of General Reinsurance, spearheaded the
in, sit, and look around.” Eventually a new wall and effort.”
Dutch door were installed to keep people from walking
unannounced into the offices.

“The phone system was a nightmare,” she said. “We
were fielding hundreds of calls a day from residents
and people calling to talk to them because they didn’t
have phone service in their apartments yet. And people
were moving in at all hours and days. None of them felt
they had to adhere to a specific move-in date, they just
showed up, often with birds and animals.”

Alan Switzer continued as Administrator until his
retirement in 1971. The Rev. Dr. Jack A. Smith, a

22 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

Third Generation Resident pays tribute to Founder

“I go back with Plymouth moved into Plymouth For the Elliotts, regular tone” of Plymouth ❝The Rev. Dr. MacNeil’s
Harbor to the year of its Harbor from Lima, Ohio, visits to Plymouth Harbor Harbor has remained vision and the
founding—I was 31 years in 1966, shortly after during their 50-plus- constant. He believes realization of that
old and my grandparents Plymouth Harbor’s year marriage provided that this consistent tone vision is why we’re
moved in here. They completion. Mr. Elliott’s an overview of both is due to the long-term able to be here today,
were succeeded by my parents, Mary Virginia continuity and change. relationship between and my family could
parents, and now we’re and Paul, visited his For instance, the couple staff and residents and not be more grateful.
here. There are only a few grandparents regularly, has witnessed three the close-knit residential
years in the history of and eventually purchased complete renovations community itself. “People Putting together
Plymouth Harbor when a part-time home at of the dining room, and here look out for each something of this
there was not an Elliott in Sarasota Harbor West Mr. Elliott insists that other,” he said. complexity, and making
residence,” said Thomas before they finally moved the “warm and caring it live this many years,
Elliott, Plymouth Harbor’s into Plymouth Harbor. is an extraordinary
first third-generation
resident, and current “The Rev. Dr. MacNeil’s achievement.
President of the Residents vision and the realization
Association. Mr. Elliott of that vision is why we’re ❞—Thomas ELLIOTt
and his wife of nearly 58 able to be here today,
years, Sue, moved into and my family could not
Plymouth Harbor in April be more grateful. Putting
2015. together something of
this complexity, and
Mr. Elliott’s grandparents making it live this many
Cary Rex and Hazel May years, is an extraordinary
“Eldean” were the first to achievement.”
discover Sarasota. They

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 23

❝To the good health and 1966: The Formation of the Monthly colony meetings, where residents receive
Plymouth Harbor Residents Association reports from the various committees, are the backbone
joy, comfort and well- of the organization. Resulting motions from the
being, to the security and Plymouth Harbor residents do not stand idly by when colonies are forwarded to the Residents Association
they have concerns. Early in 1966, a group of residents Executive Council—and the results can be far reaching.
peace of all who shall chaired by Helen Bragdon began to meet to plan a
henceforth be blest by Plymouth Harbor Residents Association. “For example, the establishment of an ad hoc
the shelter of this roof committee to work on energy conservation issues
and these walls and These initial meetings were prompted by a desire to came from a colony meeting,” said Isabel Pedersen,
the comradeship of this ensure the economic and future security of Plymouth Conservation Committee member. “It evolved from a
place, we dedicate this Harbor. In their meeting notes, the founding group discussion in one of the colonies to become an active
home, and it shall be said they sought to serve the common interests of all committee that makes recommendations with great
called Plymouth Harbor. residents and to promote mutual understanding and regularity to administration.”
cooperation between the residents, administration,
❞—The Litany of Dedication for and the Board of Trustees. They also wanted to provide Today, the Residents Association is represented on
channels by which members could express their ideas, the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees by the
Plymouth Harbor given by the Rev. Dr. share in decisions, and work in areas of their interest to current President, Vice President, and Past President,
MacNeil on May 26, 1967 promote the security and well-being of all. all of whom are full voting members of the Board of
Trustees. This ensures that residents have an active,
To that end, monthly colony meetings, in which every influential voice in Plymouth Harbor affairs.
resident has the opportunity to make known wishes
and feelings about any aspect of Plymouth Harbor, “Our President and CEO, Harry E. Hobson, always calls
were initiated. The residential areas of Plymouth Plymouth Harbor a ‘three-legged stool,’ composed
Harbor are divided into 11 “colonies.” In the Tower, a of residents, staff, and trustees. It’s a fair statement,”
new colony begins at every third residential floor. For says Terry Aldrich, Past President of the Residents
example, the Third Colony is comprised of the 3rd, 4th, Association. “Communication between the residents
and 5th floors. Each of the three residential garden themselves as well as with management is crucial to
buildings (East Garden, West Garden, and North the success of the stool remaining upright.”
Garden), and, more recently, the Smith Care Center,
are also represented as their own colony.

24 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

In its entirety, the association is comprised of The Spirit of Philanthropy
approximately 48 members—including the governing
eight-member Executive Council, as well as a group alive and well at Plymouth Harbor
of 20 committee chairs and 22 colony directors, all
staffed by generous resident volunteers. With the While the Plymouth Harbor Foundation was not
support of a staff person assigned as liaison to each established until 2012, philanthropy has been an
committee, residents focus on the serious, such as integral piece of the history of Plymouth Harbor
safety and security, to the lighthearted like musical
programs in the Smith Care Center. The library is from the very beginning.
completely operated by resident volunteers and
stocked with books paid for by residents. The Resident It is because of the generosity of residents, their families,
Fund Shop is managed by volunteers, with proceeds employees, board members, and community philanthropists that
used to buy items necessary for residents—both small
and large. Plymouth Harbor is a thriving, successful entity today.

1966: Original PRice Schedule From donating pieces of furniture to community areas
in times of financial difficulties to contributing funds
Entrance Fees: $4,000–$7,000 to renovate the building’s infrastructure, residents have shown
Studio: $6,000–$9,000
Efficiencies: $8,600–$13,500 unwavering support for Plymouth Harbor.
One Bedroom: $13,000–$20,500 Over the decades, supporters have voluntarily donated
Two Bedroom: $29,500 more than $14.5 million to perpetuate the Plymouth Harbor mission.
Deluxe–2,000 sf: Plymouth Harbor celebrates and recognizes these contributions and is
thankful to have such generous supporters in its corner.

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 25



Plans began

The Rev. Dr. John for a future
Whitney MacNeil, expansion of
Plymouth Harbor,
the founder of including a new
Plymouth Harbor, Energy Center,
Health Center,
passed away. and Independent
Residents Ronald ReaganA financialThe new valuationHurricaneThe first computerThe TrusteesLiving residences.The ResidentsThe name North
contributed was electedcampaign raisedof Plymouthshutters werewas purchasedapproved aLong-RangeGarden was
$63,182 for ad president.Harbor wasinstalled on therenovation ofPlanning
valorem taxes $200,000 from for the Accounting Pilgrim Hall. selected for the
for a total bill The Florida Officeresidents holdingestablished atmain floor.Department.Committee wasnew building.
of $91,797. of Insurance$10,765,700. The established.
Regulationold contracts.old valuation was
Continuing Care$6,779,940.
1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 Community1982 1983 1984 1985
statutes, under
which Plymouth The second space
Harbor was shuttle, Challenger,
licensed and made a successful
maiden voyage, which
1976–certified. included the first U.S.
space walk in nine

26 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6


A Period of Growth

As we moved through our second decade,

Plymouth Harbor suffered some growing

“My father was on the board early on, even before it
opened, while it was still under construction. I think heBob Kimbrough, whose father was on the board and
served from around 1965 to 1972, when he died. I camewho himself later became a trustee, has had long and
on the board in 1973 and stayed for over 15 years. Myclose ties with Plymouth Harbor. He recalled this time
mother moved into her apartment here in 1973. Aroundin Plymouth Harbor’s history as a time of extraordinary
that time, the administration and board realized wegenerosity by the residents.
were getting into financial difficulties. The existing
resident contracts had clauses restricting increasesThe Rev. Dr. Smith also recalled: “We had a very goodFrom left: Trustee William
in maintenance fees, which were not allowing us toBoard of Trustees and an excellent staff, and we allGauldin, Jr., The Rev. Dr. Jack
keep pace with rising costs. The Rev. Dr. Jack A. Smithreally worked with our residents. The cooperationA. Smith, Resident Bruce
came on board as Administrator about that time, andwas amazing. When we were in financial difficulty,Lourie
he sought advice from business people on the boardin addition to raising their own monthly payments,
and among the residents. They in turn enlisted otherresidents did everything from paying for carpeting
residents to organize a campaign among themselvesin the public areas to buying vehicles to purchasing
to voluntarily increase their monthly maintenancesilverware. We received many monetary donations
from our residents. The residents saw that the need
–1985fees.Animpressivenumberofresidentsdidso.Bythe was there, and they responded to the need to save

mid-1980s, Plymouth Harbor was pretty much in good Plymouth Harbor.”

shape financially.”

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 27

John C. Patterson, former chair of the plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees,
remembers the ad valorem legal battle in Plymouth Harbor’s early years

❝The battle caused the I was a young attorney— Appraiser John Mikos The judges raised 2: The battle caused the
in my late 20s—in wanted it the other way, questions about our board to work together
board to work together my first job at the and he appealed. We, of not-for-profit claim and to really examine
to really examine Icard Merrill law firm, course, cross-appealed, said ‘no’ to summary some fundamental
some fundamental which had represented and asked for summary judgment and ordered the principles. Why should
Plymouth Harbor since judgment, which would case to trial. As with most an organization like
principles. Why should its founding. It was preclude going to trial. civil cases, we eventually Plymouth Harbor be tax
an organization like around 1971 when I got The Second District reached an agreement exempt? What is the real
Plymouth Harbor be tax involved—Plymouth Court of Appeals heard and settled the case. Two philosophy and mission of
exempt? What is the Harbor was being oral argument here in significant results came Plymouth Harbor? Both
real philosophy and charged with ad valorem Sarasota. from this long fight—it Plymouth Harbor and the
mission . . . It really taxes, and we thought it lasted six or seven years: industry were fairly young
challenged us to define should be tax exempt. at that point. It really
ourselves and our 1: Landmark legislation challenged us to define
reason for being. Roy Dean, then a was sponsored by local ourselves and our reason
circuit court judge, and State Senator Granville for being.
❞—John C. Patterson coincidentally, years Crabtree that granted a
later a trustee and homestead equivalent to
chair of the board at us and to all such facilities
Plymouth Harbor, heard in Florida.
the case. He ruled in
our favor on a summary
judgment motion, but
Sarasota County Property

28 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

Portrait of The Rev. Dr. John
Whitney MacNeil by Rose

In 1976, residents continued this generosity and ❝I was only 14, in 1962,
contributed $63,182 to ad valorem taxes toward the
total bill of $91,797. In 1977, a resident-run financial when Dad brought me
campaign raised $200,000 from residents who held out here to Coon Key
old contracts that prohibited Plymouth Harbor from to look at the land. We
increasing fees that were desperately needed to offset had to climb over a low
growing costs in the industry. hanging rope to get onto
the trail that led to the
In 1978, things started to look up with a new valuation lagoon. Dad somehow
of Plymouth Harbor established at $10,765,700—
the old valuation was set at $6,779,940. This same knew about this
year, longtime Plymouth Harbor supporter Homer B. beautiful location, and
Myers was elected as Chair of the Plymouth Harbor, would poke around here.
Inc. Board of Trustees. Mr. Myers was instrumental in It was something we
helping Plymouth Harbor succeed from the very start— did together, and I have
loaning money, assisting in city and zoning issues, and fond memories of it.
serving as a board member.

In 1979, a solemn wave came over Plymouth Harbor “I’m most grateful to be a resident here,” says Mrs.
as the founder, The Rev. Dr. MacNeil, passed away at MacNeil Merrill. “It seems as though I’ve come full —Paul MacNeil (The Rev. Dr. John
the young age of 68. Years earlier, at age 54, he had circle, from the very moment of conception of this idea Whitney MacNeil’s son)
suffered a major heart attack and was forced to resign to my living here and being a part of it. I’ve come to
from the First Congregational United Church of Christ, realize that this is the way [John] lived his life—seeing
having lived with some difficulty ever since. His wife, the need, he took it upon himself, and that is the spirit
Judith, and son, Paul, survived him, and in 2006, Judith, of philanthropy.”
now Judith MacNeil Merrill, moved into Plymouth

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 29

efficient equipment—resulting in a savings of roughly
$400 per month.

In 1981, the administration moved onto carrying out
structural improvements, including reroofing for the
East and West Gardens. Later that year, Plymouth
Harbor dipped its toe in the technological movement
with the purchase of the first-ever computer for use in
the Accounting Department.

Sandy Etayo, an employee in our Accounting
Department, began working here shortly afterward
in 1983. “There was a recession and work was hard
to find. I took this job temporarily, in my mind,” she
said. The people, opportunities, and expanding work
environment have kept her here.

The Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Despite this tragic loss, Plymouth Harbor propelled Mrs. Etayo was hired for a data entry position, using
Board of Trustees approved a forward with the continued help of the residents, and the only campus computer. “It was nothing like what
renovation of Pilgrim Hall in by 1980, Plymouth Harbor was beginning to be on solid we have now,” she said. “I remember using two
1982. ground financially. However, with a national inflation separate sets of floppy disks—one had the programs
rate of 13 percent, costs were kept down whenever and one had the information. It certainly took a lot
possible, and a number of new mandates were longer.”
implemented. One of which included the installation
of a new, “modern” switchboard with smaller, more Later in 1983, Plymouth Harbor was able to embark
upon larger-scale renovations and improvements, and
another voluntary campaign to raise $200,000 was
initiated by residents. It began with Pilgrim Hall, which

30 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

underwent a minor facelift for a period of about six Above: The North Garden
weeks. The project was made possible through the Groundbreaking Ceremony in
generous gifts of residents and included a new stage, 1985
carpet, chairs, and a new cooling and heating system. Left: Resident Bruce
Lourie participates in the
Around this same time, leadership began to realize Groundbreaking Shovel
that, in addition to the “here and now,” Plymouth Ceremony.
Harbor needed to focus on long-term planning. As a
result, the Residents’ Long-Range Planning Committee T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 31
was established in 1984. And, as an important part
of corporate due diligence, the Board of Trustees
and the Residents’ Long-Range Planning Committee
began working together on a master plan for Plymouth
Harbor. Out of those meetings arose an ambitious
expansion and improvement plan for Plymouth Harbor
to complete in the coming years.

The first of these projects would include the
construction of a new North Garden complex—a name
selected by both residents and trustees. The building
would include a new Health Center (now known as
the The Rev. Jack A. Smith Care Center), 32 additional
apartments, covered parking, and a mechanical
center. On October 8, 1985, Plymouth Harbor held
a distinguished and memorable groundbreaking
ceremony in celebration of this project.



The ChallengerA final paymentThe new HealthThe MezzanineA landscapeThe Florida The Health Center A $1.2 million Plymouth Harbor’s
space shuttleof $1.6 millionCenter (now SmithArt Gallery wasmaster planAssociation of the (now Smith Dining Room in-house television
exploded afterwas made to pay was developed American Institute Care Center)
launch at Capeoff the initialCare Center) serve as the renovation station became
Canaveral,the 32-unit North framework for of Architects received Medicare project was operational.
Florida, killingmortgage. 1989 recognized certification. completed.
Construction all sevenGarden were future Solar heating for
for the new completed and landscaping. Plymouth Harbor the outdoor pool
1986–aboard. with the “Test of
Energy Center occupied. was installed.
began. Time” Award.

1986 1987 1988 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995

Bill Clinton was A bomb
elected President, exploded in
Al Gore was basement
elected Vice garage of the
President. World Trade
Center, killing

32 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6


Renovations and Innovations

Soon after Plymouth Harbor celebrated

paying off the $4 million mortgage taken

out in June 1965, we began working on
In 1988, after three years of construction, the Health
Center (now Smith Care Center) opened for residentsnumerous building projects, both large and
needing skilled nursing care. The North Garden, whichsmall.
was also part of the expansion, opened with 32 new
A state-of-the-art Energy Center was constructed North Garden construction
–1995independentlivingunits—andwasquicklyfilledwithand the entire complex was retrofitted to quality
standards in 1986. The next year resident generosity
continued, and Plymouth Harbor was able to
purchase a new 26-passenger bus, along with a
new Ford LTD Station Wagon for use by the Health
Services Department. Plans were initiated for a new
heated indoor therapeutic pool, and a boardwalk
and pavilion were constructed. Inside, on the lower
level, the woodworking shop and a sewing room was
upgraded for serious hobbyists and casual workers.
The woodworking shop has become a special favorite
among many residents.

In part, the waiting list was so long because residents
could increase the square footage in their apartments
thanks to the foresight of designers and builders in
making the walls non-load bearing and therefore
“moveable.” These larger apartments meant fewer

people from the long waiting list. opportunities for new people to move in.

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 33

❝... I didn’t have any North Garden on opening day

sales tools! What I did The North Garden open-air atrium was a design
have was a long waiting conceived by architect Stuart Barger to complement
the existing Tower. When it opened in 1988, one of
list for Tower units. the selling points was the long waiting list for Tower
I used that to talk to apartments. “I was under a mandate to fill all those
apartments quickly,” recalled staff member Margaret
people about the Wierts-Parrinello.
North Garden.
“But I didn’t have any sales tools! What I did have
❞ was a long waiting list for Tower units. I used that to
talk to people about the North Garden,” she said. The
—margaret Wierts-Parrinello board wanted the new apartments filled as quickly as
possible so that the future residents could choose their
paint colors, carpeting, tiling, and the like, to help the
architect complete the apartments.

34 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

J. Mark Vanderbeck, Executive Director John Ames, Director of Admissions

Once the North Garden was filled, Plymouth Harbor Many changes occurred in the year 1989. Long-serving
moved onto making other significant enhancements to Administrator and friend extraordinaire The Rev. Dr.
the community. Like many companies in 1988, we were Smith retired. After a year-long search, the Board of
slowly entering the computer age. When John Ames Trustees promoted J. Mark Vanderbeck to the position,
joined the staff as Director of Admissions, he brought and renamed the position Executive Director. At the
his personal Macintosh computer to the job. Over same time, John Ames was selected as the Associate
time, the administrative office was computerized, and Executive Director, while continuing his marketing
throughout the years, both Plymouth Harbor staff and responsibilities and personally interviewing all
residents have gone high-tech. potential residents.

Mr. Ames further propelled Plymouth Harbor into A new assisted living center was opened in 1989,
the information age with the installation of an in- named the Callahan Center in honor of the many
house television station that kept residents informed contributions and accomplishments of resident Arthur
of events, meetings, and important messages from F. Callahan. Also in 1989, for year-round aquatic
the administration. This in-house channel is still in activity, Plymouth Harbor built an indoor therapy
existence today as Channel 195, and in 2015, the pool and spa to complement the outdoor pool, made
station received a complete overhaul to better reflect possible by a gift from Andrew Mulholland, in memory
the modern atmosphere of Plymouth Harbor. of his wife Dudley.

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 35

The dining room was for the outdoor pool, and safety enhancements were
renovated in 1994, and made to the Tower elevators. Most notably, however,
Plymouth Harbor made its final payment on the
a lending library was North Garden and Health Center building mortgage.
established. A croquet court was established the next year, and
the North Garden retention pond was renovated. The
In the latter part of this decade, both large and small Health Center also became Medicare certified. After
enhancements to the campus continued, and in the a much-needed $1.2 million renovation, Plymouth
year 1990, many administrative and policy changes Harbor’s dining room was completed in 1994, along
took place. A landscaping master plan was developed with the redecoration of the Card Room (now known as
to serve as the framework for future projects. the Club Room).
Admissions policies were revised and approved by
the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees after A lending library was established, and two organs
consultation with the Residents Association and were given to Plymouth Harbor as a gift—one was an
administration. A resident conference room on the Allen organ for use in Pilgrim Hall, given by residents
Mezzanine was also constructed. Mildred and Bernard Doyle, and the other was gifted
to the MacNeil Chapel. Plymouth Harbor received the
Construction continued in 1991 with the updating of Silver Bow Award in 1995 from the Sarasota Garden
administrative offices. A new telephone system was Club, recognizing the property’s “outstanding beauty.”
installed, and Plymouth Harbor began researching The decade ended with a bang as Plymouth Harbor
comprehensive computer systems for the facility. The celebrated its 30-year anniversary.
lobby received a gift of new mailboxes, and Plymouth
Harbor was awarded the Test of Time Award from
the Florida Association of the American Institute of

In 1992, an Ad Hoc Long Range Financial Plan was
developed. Later that year, solar heating was installed

36 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

The Award-winning Jack A. Smith Care Center is established

The Jack A. Smith Care One final name change the physical, social, and for this recognition,
Center today bears little came at the 40th emotional well-being of facilities must have a
resemblance to the Anniversary celebration, nursing facility residents. track record of 30 months
original Infirmary. when in a surprise It is awarded to only 3 of outstanding state
The Infirmary was located announcement—at to 4 percent of nursing surveys—and only about
on the second floor of least to him—the center facilities in the state of 8 percent of facilities do.
the Tower, in the space was named The Jack Florida. To be eligible
that is now occupied by A. Smith Care Center
the Callahan Center. It in recognition of the
had 43 beds in 14 rooms, former Executive Director
with only one private and his extraordinary
room. In the late 1980s contributions to Plymouth
the name was changed Harbor.
to the Health Center and
moved to its present In 2010, and again in
location in its own area 2016, the Smith Care
on campus. The name Center was awarded the
changed again around the Governor’s Gold Seal
turn of the century, to the Award for Excellence.
Plymouth Harbor Health The award recognizes
and Rehabilitation Center, nursing facilities that
to more fully describe its demonstrate excellence
functions. in long-term care over
a sustained period,
promote stability of the
industry, and facilitate

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 37



Plymouth Relocation of the

Harbor’s administrative

investments offices to the
were increased The President and Mildred and Plymouth Harbor The Rev. Dr.
by $3 million. Vice President Bernard Doyle held a September Jack A. Smith expansion of the
Charitable Trust Marketing and
Residents, staff, of the Residents Scholarship was 11th Prayer returned as
and trustees Association were established to aid Service. Interim Executive Sales Office, the
President Clintonemployees and The fitness move of Human
was impeachedcelebrated Plymouthmade votingObservance of thetheir children.A Missionroom received aThe Health andDirector untilResources to the
on two charges,Harbor’s Thirtiethmembers of theTenth AnniversaryStatement wasfacelift and newRehabilitationHarry HobsonBoard Room and
perjury andAnniversary onPlymouth Harbor, Center (Smith was selected. the Board Room
obstruction ofof the Northadopted. equipment. to the Mezzanine
November 12, 1996. Inc. Board of Garden. Care Center) Conference Room.
1996–justice. Trustees. remodel began.

1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Terrorists U.S. declared An enormous Hurricane
attacked the war against tsunami Katrina
United States on Iraq. devastated wreaked
September 11, Asia; 200,000 catastrophic
2001. Hijackers killed. damage on
crashed jetliners the Gulf coast;
into the twin millions were
towers of New left homeless.
York City’s World London was
Trade Center and hit by Islamic
the Pentagon. A terrorist
fourth hijacked bombings–
plane crashed 80 Britain’s worst
miles outside of attack since
Pittsburgh. World War II.

38 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6


Fulfilling Our Mission

When Executive Director Mark Vanderbeck

left in 1998, John Ames superbly filled

in as Interim Executive Director while a
Other significant changes took place during this time
as well. In 1997, the President, Vice President, andnationwide search was conducted. Stan
Past President of the Residents Association becameClouse was hired to assume the leadership
full voting members of the Plymouth Harbor, Inc.role in 1998. In 2004, following another
Board of Trustees. The board saw this as a means ofnationwide search, Harry E. Hobson, our
ensuring that residents had an active, influential voicecurrent President and CEO, was recruited
in all Plymouth Harbor affairs. According to Plymouthand hired to succeed Mr. Clouse. During
Harbor’s immediate Past President of the Residentsthe search for Mr. Hobson, Plymouth
Harbor was lucky enough to have longtime
–2005Association,TerryAldrich,thisisarareoccurrence.friend and leader The Rev. Dr. Smith return
as Interim Executive Director.

Aerial view

only about five CCRCs have residents on their board,
and of those, three have voting privileges.”

Mary Allyn, also a Past President of the Residents
Association, added, “Plymouth Harbor is rare in that
it was one of the first communities to see value in
establishing voting rights for its residents. Not only

“There are nearly 70 continuing care retirement do we have one resident seat on the board, we have

communities in the state of Florida,” he said. “Of those, three.”

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 39

❝Plymouth Harbor is rare In 1999, the Mildred and Bernard Doyle Charitable To firmly uphold the values of the organization,
Trust was established by residents Mildred and Plymouth Harbor adopted a formal mission statement
in that it was one of the Bernard Doyle for Plymouth Harbor employees and in 2000, which reads as follows:
first communities to see their children. A result of the deep admiration the
Doyles developed for employees during their residency, “Plymouth Harbor is a church-sponsored, not-for-profit
value in establishing the trust was established as a means to provide community of distinction for older adults, committed to
voting rights for ongoing educational assistance to “a worthy and providing the most positive aging experience possible for
its resident board needy child of an employee of Plymouth Harbor” or “a its residents.”
members. worthy and needy employee seeking to increase their
skills or to obtain a higher education.” A scholarship A vision and core values were also established:
❞ committee at Northern Trust Bank, which includes
former Plymouth Harbor Executive Director The Rev. Our vision is to become the regional continuing care
—mary Allyn Dr. Smith, meets annually and selects two recipients of retirement community (CCRC) of choice.
the $5,000 scholarship. Since its establishment, more
than 25 scholarships have been awarded. Core Values
• We build inclusive relationships and a sense of
A general “sprucing up” of the campus was conducted
during this decade. Each year brought significant community through trust and open communications.
capital projects. In 2000, a five-year strategic plan • We encourage cooperation through collaboration
was approved by the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of
Trustees. Several capital projects were initiated and and the respectful sharing of ideas and beliefs.
completed, including the parking lot, new lighting, an • We exhibit integrity and honesty in all dealings.
upgrade to the Cooling Tower, repairs to the exterior of • We encourage innovation and ensure excellence
the buildings, and waterproofing and painting.
through high quality standards.
• We emphasize a holistic approach; supporting

resident independence by celebrating individuality
and treating people with dignity.
• We recognize the importance of preparedness
and are committed to providing a safe and secure
environment for all constituents.

40 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

Mote Marine Laboratory installed an aquarium on the
main floor, a gift from an anonymous donor. In 2001,
a project completing the North Garden atrium was
finished, a new telephone system was installed, the
Fitness Room received a facelift and new equipment,
and art glass windows were installed in MacNeil
Chapel. The Mezzanine area was expanded and
renovated in 2002, where residents enjoy gathering for
informal get-togethers, friendly games and activities,
and, of course, the popular puzzle table.

An interior remodel and upgrade of the Smith Care
Center began in 2003. And, after the installation of the
new telephone system, Plymouth Harbor registered
all phone numbers with the National Do Not Call
Registry. For guests that Plymouth Harbor was unable
to accommodate due to either limited availability or
space constraints, a partnership with the Lido Key
Beach Resort was established.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley hit hard in southwest County, 80 percent of the buildings were destroyed. It Art glass windows in the
Florida. It was the first of four hurricanes to impact was a lesson learned for Plymouth Harbor. Remodeling MacNeil Chapel were
Florida within six weeks during that year’s highly active and renovation projects immediately began to meet installed in 2001.
hurricane season. In the Florida peninsula alone, $14.6 hurricane standards.
billion in property damage occurred. Sarasota and
surrounding areas in the southwestern part of the state
were exposed to strong Category 4 strength winds in
the hurricane’s eyewall. In the neighboring Charlotte

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 41

The popular Plymouth Rock
Café opened in 2005.

information, frequently asked questions, company
announcements, career opportunities, and more.
The website is an ever-changing and evolving
communications vehicle, and it serves as a phenomenal
resource for residents, guests, and employees alike.

In the early 2000s, company websites had become a Also in 2005, the Dining Room Lounge was
necessity. Plymouth Harbor published the website in transformed and opened as the Plymouth Rock Café.
January 2005, and completed a major overhaul again
in 2014. It can be found at
It is an all-encompassing online platform that has
information on the organization as a whole, upcoming
news and events, photos, news articles, contact

42 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

The Spirit of Philanthropy

The doyles’ legacy

Mildred Freeman Doyle ❝
was born in 1897 and
passed away in 1996. Her I am grateful that
husband, Samuel Bernard people care enough
Doyle, was born in 1898 to make pathways
and passed away one year for people who have
later in 1997. At Plymouth families and may
Harbor, they were known not have the extra
instead by their nicknames—she was Mimi, while he was monetary means to
attend school.
During their time at Plymouth Harbor, the Doyles got to know the staff quite
well. As a way of giving back to the community they came to know and love, ❞
the Doyles established the Mildred and Bernard Doyle Charitable Trust to
provide ongoing educational assistance to its employees. —tara mitchelL, 2015 recipient
of the Doyle Scholarship

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 43



A N D AR O U N D T H E W O R L D On August 20, 2014, On May 29, 2015,
The Plymouth Plymouth Harbor
The Smith Care At the end of Sarasota celebrated its first
Center received 2009, Plymouth Magazine named Harbor, Inc. Board of
approval to open Harbor completed Plymouth Harbor Trustees approved MacNeil Day
“Best in Customer — a tribute to
beds to the a 36-month the Northwest Garden its founder, The
community at Capital Service.” Building project. Reverend Dr. John
Whitney MacNeil.
Celebration Californialarge.Plymouth HarborImprovementA resident surveyThe PlymouthHarry E. Hobson The new, state-of-
of Plymouth Democrat Nancywon the singularProject thatrevealed high Harbor was named the-art Wellness In December 14,
Harbor’s 40th Pelosi became2007 Executive of Center opened. 2015 Plymouth
Anniversary: the first womanhonor of “Bestprovided for majorinterest in a moreFoundation was Harbor held a
“Proud of the speaker of theRetirementenhancementsformal wellness established. the Year at the Bill Johnston was Groundbreaking
U.S. House ofCommunity”to campus program and LeadingAge FL named Trustee Ceremony for the
Past and infrastructure. facility. 2012 Northwest Garden
Confident of2006–Representatives. from Sarasota Conference. of the Year at the
the Future.” Magazine. 2010 2011 LeadingAge FL Building.
2008 2009 2013 2014 2015

The world Barack Obama U.S. troops and After 19 years Multiple bombs More than 13
economy faced its became the first CIA operatives of negotiations, exploded near years since
most dangerous African American shot and killed Russia joined the finish line Sept. 11, 2001,
crisis since the to be elected Osama bin Laden the World Trade of the Boston One World
Great Depression president of the in Abbottabad, Organization. Marathon. Trade Center
of the 1930s. United States. Pakistan. opened.

44 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6


Investing in Our Future

Many changes took place during the years

2006—2015. Similar to our third decade,

these years were filled with major projects,
• Insuring Plymouth Harbor’s long-term financial
successrenovations, and plans for the future.

• Providing for a full continuum of residents’ programs,During 2006, a new strategic plan was approved that
care, and servicesfocused on six key initiatives:

• Providing modern and updated accommodations,out for each other” during times of severe weather andResidents attend a line
amenities, and lifestylesother related emergency conditions.dancing class in the Group
Fitness and Dance Studio.
• Seeking appropriate collaborative opportunitiesParticularly significant was Plymouth Harbor’s signing
• Becoming an Employer of Choice in the tri-countyof an agreement to pursue the Quality First Initiative
with the American Association of Homes and Services
areafor the Aging (Now LeadingAge). This initiative
• Addressing issues related to the recent changes inrepresents a philosophy of quality and a framework for

the weather pattern

The board also developed a Master Site Plan
expansion strategy that provided for new independent
living accommodations and addressed the need
for additional assisted living units and a possible
special care unit. Plymouth Harbor took the lead in

communities, where the primary purpose was to “look earning public trust in aging services.

T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 45

The Spirit of Philanthropy ❝

William “Bill” R. johnston Being on this
board gave me the
Bill Johnston served as trustee on the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. opportunity to meet
Board of Trustees for six years, and chaired The Plymouth people, both inside
Harbor Foundation Board of Trustees from its founding and out, that are
through 2015. smart and energetic.
That’s what makes
Mr. Johnston was first introduced to Plymouth Harbor by five relatives who this institution the
preceded him, including his parents, two aunts, and an uncle. In 2016, Mr. hottest ticket in town.
Johnston and his wife, Betsy, officially became residents of Plymouth Harbor.

Mr. Johnston helped to form the Foundation in 2011 and 2012, contributing
to the formation of the Operating Agreement, selection of the staff, and —Bill Johnston
invitations to each Foundation Board member. He was unwavering in accepting
the nomination to chair the Foundation in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Through
his leadership, the board was formed, policies were developed, two capital
campaigns were successfully completed, and the Foundation grew to become
a welcomed and valuable asset to life at Plymouth Harbor—having generated
over $2.4 million in current gifts and over $1.4 million in deferred giving, for
a grand total of over $3.8 million dollars under his leadership. In 2014, Mr.
Johnston was named Trustee of the Year by LeadingAge FL.

46 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

In 2007, Plymouth Harbor responded to the needs The history of the plymouth harbor logo
of many by securing approval open our Smith Care
Center beds to the community at large. In addition, the Pre-1966
board embarked on a 36-month Capital Improvement
Project to provide major infrastructural enhancements
to the campus. As part of the new look, a new logo
and new name, Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay,
was introduced to represent a more contemporary
depiction of Plymouth Harbor.

In 2008, many months of working with local and state Post-1966
officials culminated in the successful defense of zoning
and land use potential as the city’s Comprehensive Post-1990s
Plan was revised and approved by the state of Florida.
Plymouth Harbor later signed a Memorandum of
Understanding to partner with the Sarasota Institute
of Lifetime Learning (SILL), which helped enhance
educational opportunities for residents via remote
telecasting of quality lectures. This educational series
is still offered to residents today. As the year 2008
came to a close, Plymouth Harbor received the singular
honor of being recognized by Sarasota Magazine as
the area’s “Best Retirement Community.” At the end
of 2009, Plymouth Harbor completed its 36-month
Capital Improvement Project.


T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6 47

A New approach to Dining Today, the kitchen serves all residents of the Plymouth
Harbor community, including those in the Smith Care
Satisfying the tastes of the diverse group of residents and Callahan Centers. In addition to special meals on
at Plymouth Harbor can be a challenge, but the dining holidays such as Easter Sunday or Halloween, when
staff seems to meet all their needs without a misstep. the staff dresses up, the dining room accommodates
for residents’ private parties. For residents who choose
In 2010, a major goal of Plymouth Harbor was to to host a catered private party onsite, basically the sky
greatly enhance the services and amenities available is the limit. The dining staff also offers a Limited Food
to residents—including wellness, transportation, Purchase option—where residents can order “to go”
dining, and more. As a result, Plymouth Harbor took food from a set menu and the cost is applied to their
the dining experience in a new direction, with many annual food contract. This service is the perfect option
changes to the Mayflower Restaurant and Café. More for residents who wish to enjoy Plymouth Harbor’s
sophistication, variety, and flavor was added to the high-quality food offerings outside of the Mayflower
dining menu, and along with it came a new executive Restaurant and Café.
Chef, René Weder.
No matter what the occasion, the dining staff makes
sure that every resident gets the five-star restaurant
experience at Plymouth Harbor.

48 T H E S T O R Y O F P LY M O U T H H A R B O R 1 9 6 6 – 2 0 1 6

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