Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chester LeGrange was one of a kind, and he'll be missed by all who knew him

Chester LeGrange, left, with Skip Glasson at Terra Siesta in December.
JAMES A. JONES JR./Bradenton Herald
We met William A. "Chester" LeGrange, 99, while working on a neighborhood feature in December. He lived in Terra Siesta, one of the 55-plus communities along U.S. 301 North in Ellenton.

You knew right away that Chester was something special. He was beloved by his neighbors for his kindness and his concern for others, and his  sprightly sense of humor.

The day we met him, he was with Skip Glasson in a golf cart, and had just picked up a statue of a gnome that he was going to repaint for a neighbor.

Unfortunately, Chester, the oldest resident of Terra Siesta, fell and broke his hip some weeks later. But he lived to see the Bradenton Herald story, and was happy with it, we're told.

You know that the folks in Terra Siesta, and his family members are missing him terribly.

"In the 1950s and 1960s, we lived on 16th Street in Samoset. Each year he would put up a Christmas display that was a block long, He cut every piece out of lumber. The display was animated, and set to music," said his daughter, Norma Kennedy, who is now a civic leader in Parrish.

"People came from miles around to see the display. The ones who knew my family would stop by for coffee and the fruitcake that my mother baked," Kennedy said. "Christmas was always his thing, and when he was older, he would just decorate his golf cart."

In his younger days, Chester's home was on what is now Skyway Memorial Gardens, where was laid to rest.

Charles Lee Howell, property manager at Terra Siesta, says that Chester was the "happiest guy in the place."

Chester looked after his neighbors, and they looked after him, too.

"He was a heck of a carpenter, and there wasn't anything that he couldn't do," Howell said. "I always liked to drop in to see Chester. Some times I would see him napping in his golf cart."

When Dave Warner bought in Terra Siesta 15 years ago, Chester was his neighbor.

"He was pleasant and charming; just a very good neighbor," Warner said.

"Chester was a very active volunteer in the community, and over the years his activities changed as he got older, He used to lead all the golf cart parades. Chester was going great guns until the day he went down," Warner said.

Chester passed away Jan. 10, 2015.

He was born in Princeton, Ind., on Oct. 22, 1915. On December 23, 1936, He married Ruth Saunders LeGrange in 1936.

He was a carpenter at Miller's Trailers and Rasmussen Construction until retirement.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor to Emmanuel Baptist Church, 8305 US 301, Parrish, FL 34219.

In case you missed that Terra Siesta feature, you can read it here, and learn a little more about Chester and his neighbors:


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Parrish residents come together to clean up their historic cemetery

Parrish residents gathered to tend the graves at Parrish's historic cemetery on Saturday.

An awesome day.

That's what Iris McClain calls Saturday, Jan. 17, when 65 black and white residents of Parrish got together to clean up the historic Parrish Cemetery.

"It was a community thing," said Floyd Dozier, who has many relatives buried there. "I think it was a good idea."

The cemetery, which opened in 1876 with the burial of an infant, Rose Lee Turner, belongs to all residents of Parrish, and is historically important to  Manatee County.

Major William Iredell Turner, a Seminole War and Civil War veteran, was a Parrish pioneer and Bradenton's first postmaster, when it was still called Braidentown.

Also interred there are World War I and World War II veterans.

Originally, blacks and whites were buried in separate parts of the cemetery.

But, that was many years ago.

"We took that fence down a long time ago," McClain said.

"What a wonderful day we all had on Saturday. It turned out to be a beautiful day with at least 65 people showing up to help make this old historical cemetery look beautiful again," she said.

"We all got to see people that we have not seen in awhile. When stopping long enough to rest a few minutes, we would visit a little and then get back to work," McClain said.

Prime movers in rallying the community to cleanup the cemetery were longtime pillars Vivian Boice and JoAnn Rogers.

"Our cemetery was just going down, down," Rogers said of her decision to personally recruit neighbors to come to the cleanup.

"We are all God's children. I asked the Lord to let me live a bit longer until we got the cemetery cleaned up," said Rogers, 86.

In addition to locals, some volunteers came from outside the county to tend to relative's graves.

McClain spent her day weeding around the graves of infants and children so that their names and other poignant information could be read.

"We plan to have another work day when the old leaves fall and the new leaves come in," she said. That should be some time in the spring.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ellenton's Colony Cove residents aid Marines by digging deep for Toys for Tots drive

Colony Cove residents donated 15 bikes for the Toys for Tots drive.
Photos provided by Vickie Cochran and Isabel Jaekel 

A little Christmas elf -- well actually it was Vickie Cochran -- told us that Colony Cove residents came through in a big way with their Toys For Tots drive on Dec 7.

"Sponsored by the New England Club this year, Santa's little helpers, collected over 800 toys including 15 various sizes of bicycles.  Also, the business community along U.S. 301 participated with boxes and also donated several toys for our drive," Vickie said.

Colony Cove residents collected $1,000 which will be used in Manatee County  for special needs kids.  The  money will help pay for  adjusting toys in a way that children with special needs will be able to ride or play with them.

Colony Cove residents started their evening with a spaghetti and meatball dinner, made by Fred and Carol Roselli.  Many volunteers helped out with serving more than 200 meals.

After dinner, residents got into their golf carts and drove through the community in their Christmas attire to pick up toys. The Marines came with their truck and collected the toys.

"All the residents involved hope that this will put a smile on a child's face come Christmas morning.  We all enjoyed being Santa.  Next year we hope the drive will be even bigger and better.  Thank you to all involved," Vickie Cochran said.

Spaghetti dinner for Colony Cove residents, and a ton of toys for kids..
Photos provided by Vickie Cochran and Isabel Jaekel 

Spaghetti dinner for Colony Cove residents, and a ton of toys for kids..
Photos provided by Vickie Cochran and Isabel Jaekel 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Artists at Palm-Aire open their 23rd season with circus theme, circus legends

Pedro Reis, Helen Martin (Committee chair) and Dolly Jacobs.
Provided photo by Nan Miller

The Art Association of Palm-Aire opened its 32nd season with a champagne luncheon this month at the Palm-Aire Country Club, reports Charleen Gorbet.

Famed aerialist Dolly Jacobs and her husband Pedro Reis spoke to the packed house about their life in the circus, and Dolly added anecdotes about her father Lou Jacobs, renowned as one of the foremost professional clowns in the world.  His star was installed on the Circus Ring of Fame at St. Armand’s Circle in 1988.

If Lou was known as King of the Clowns, Dolly was Queen of the Air.  Her many accolades include her own star on the Circus Ring of Fame, awarded in 1997.  But Dolly did not speak of these; she and Pedro, who met on a circus tour, now share their passion for circus arts as founders of The Circus Arts Conservatory in Sarasota.

They developed and manage Circus Sarasota and its youth version, Sailor Circus.  Through teaching, outreach into the community, and performance, they promote and help to maintain the love of circus for which Sarasota is famous.

The circus theme was carried out with table decorations made by the members, and a  menu that used champagne in each dish.

Judy Hall with table decoration honoring Lou Jacobs.
Provided photo by Nan Miller

Circus scene became table decoration.
Provided photo by Nan Miller

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Here's a chance to check out the lemurs of Myakka City: annual open house is set for Nov. 8

Lemurs at Myakka City reserve.
Herald file photo

MYAKKA CITY — It's not every day that the public has a chance to see the beautiful and rare lemurs of Myakka City.

But there is an opportunity 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, when the Myakka City Lemur Reserve has its annual open house .

The reserve is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the primates of Madagascar through captive breeding, scientific research, and education, according to the reserve's website.

Planned at the free family-friendly open house are food and beverages, lemur-themed games and fun.

To RSVP and get directions to the 100-acre reserve, send an email to nhendrickson@lemurreserve.org.

For a gallery of photos, click here:

For more about Myakka City Lemur Reserve, visit:


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Artists capturing the look of Parrish 'en plein air'

Eileen Laske works on a painting at Brown's Grove and Produce Stand. Provided photos by Norma Kennedy.

PARRISH -- Local artists have taken paint brush in hand and set about capturing images of Parrish on canvas "en plein air," French for in the open air.

Members of the Parrish Arts Council know that the Parrish of 2014 will change, just as did the Parrish of 1890 and the Parrish of 1940.

The en plein air days are one way of capturing  time in a bottle for posterity. Thus far, they have painted Fort Hamer Park and  Brown's Grove and Produce Stand.

The next Parrish en plein air is set for  Music & Art by the Train between 11:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Nov. 8.

For more information, contact Jerri Phillips at  www.parrishartscouncil.org or on Facebook at parrishartscouncil.

Music and Art by the Train will be held at the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish.

 It will be the Council's first arts festival, and feature the museum running its regular train schedule. Bands scheduled to play include Kim Betts & Gamble Creek Band, Buffalo Creek Middle School Jazz Band, Chasing Blue from Boston, Mass., Berklee College of Music.

"It's a biggie," said Arts Council President Norma Kennedy of the festival. The council is working to make Parrish a tourist destination with its Fort Hamer rowing facility, farm history, and railroad museum.

One of Jerri Phillip's paintings of the Manatee River at Fort Hamer will be auctioned at the fest.

To round out the day, barbecue, hot dogs, drinks, snacks and beer and wine will be available for purchase.

Jerri Phillips paints a tractor at Brown's Grove and Produce Stand. 

Artis Wick sets up her easel at Fort Hamer Park.

Joe Kanoza works on a river scene.
Jerri Phillips' painting of Fort Hamer Park will be auctioned at Music and Art by the Train.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Get your downward facing dog on: Yoga festival in East Manatee to benefit All Faiths Food Bank

Heartwood Retreat Center,  17507 Waterline Road, East Manatee, celebrates National Yoga Month with a fundraising yoga festival 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13.

Afterward there will be community music by Kirtan 5-7 p.m.

The festival features a full day of events, including eight  yoga classes in a variety of styles and levels, special interest workshops, Sutra lectures, a kid’s yoga zone from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., a yoga art gallery, yoga art activities, music entertainment, more than 30 healthy lifestyle and food vendors, dance performances, and more.

Several of the area’s leading yoga facilities, ReFlex Arts Yoga, Prana Yoga and Garden of the Heart Yoga are represented to support this celebration for a community cause. Tickets are $25 for the full day’s events and all money collected will be donated to the All Faith’s Food Bank.

 For more information or a schedule of activities, visit HeartwoodRetreatCenter.com.

Tickets are available online at Eventbrite, HeartwoodRetreatCenter.com, ReFlex Arts, Prana Yoga or Garden of the Heart Yoga as well.

 For more information, call 941 359-9642.