Saturday, a celebration of the life of Dan Boone drew a huge crowd to Grace United Methodist Church.

It was a testament to the impact a passionate person can have on the place he or she calls home.

Boone lived here more than 60 years, raising two sons who raised their own families here and whose children also returned after college, several of them to join the family law firm.

And to carry on his legacy of community service.

When Boone and his wife, Freda, moved to Venice in 1956, the population consisted of a few hundred people and the city lacked infrastructure even to serve them.

Over the years he would be involved in — usually leading — the effort to extend city water and sewer lines and pave roads; to create the Lake Venice Golf Club on the airport property; to build Venice High's first football stadium; to bring in cable TV; to create the Venice Symphony; and to charter Grace United Methodist Church.

He also had the connections to get the federal government to deed the beachfront along the entire Venice Municipal Airport property to the city.

All of those things helped make Venice the city it is today but you won't see his name on any of them because he wasn't the type to blow his own horn. Chances are that most people didn't know what he had contributed to Venice until they read his obituary last month.

Boone was one of the largely unsung volunteers who keep Venice running. So are his sons, Jeff and Steve, who have done everything from coaching youth sports to helping establish the Venice Boys & Girls Club, finding a home for Challenger Baseball and advising Teen Court.

Equally dedicated people volunteer at Venice Regional Bayfront Health; for Venice Area Beautification Inc.; in the libraries and schools; at Venice Theatre …. The list goes on and on.

Imagine that the hospital had to pay the more than 500 people who volunteer their time to staff the information desk and help discharged patients leave for home.

What would the newly redone downtown look like if Venice Area Beautification Inc. could no longer provide the labor to plant and maintain the flowers there? Would residents be OK with spending tax dollars for it?

Suppose no one wanted to shelve books in the libraries, or use space there to help someone learn to read.

How much fun would a show at Venice Theatre be without volunteers to paint sets, or help attendees find their seats? Would there even be shows?

Like Boone, the people who perform those tasks came to Venice, fell in love with it and decided they were obligated to give back in some way. They found an organization that suits their interests and talents and they try to make it a little better.

And in the process, make the city a little better, for all of us.

Join them. You'll be glad you did.

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