By GREG GILES
The Venice Historic Preservation Board and Venice City Council posthumously honored Carol Lynn “Carolyn” Redlin recently with the Venice Legacy Award.
Redlin, who came to Venice nearly a decade ago, led many community boards that promote historic Venice. She died in February.
Family and friends, including partner and fiancée Thomas J. Doherty, were on hand at City Hall during the recognition portion of Council’s meeting to receive the award, presented by Jean Trammell, president of the Historic Preservation Board, last month.
“Her life blossomed in Venice,” Doherty said. “Before that she was a buttoned-down corporate officer. In Venice, she developed friendships and became more active. She got a whole new life.”
Redlin was born in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, in 1953 and raised in Northridge, California.
By all accounts, she had a fulfilling career as an information systems executive for several technology and healthcare companies across the United States. She retired from MedStar Health in Columbia, Maryland, and relocated to Venice with Doherty in 2009.
It took five years of traveling down from Maryland on occasion, visiting Southwest Florida communities from Naples to Bradenton, trying to decide where to retire, before Venice captured their attention.
“I could live here,” Doherty recalled Redlin saying as they drove down tree-canopied West Venice Avenue.
After the move, Redlin and Doherty joined the Venice Newcomers Club, meeting like-minded people who would become their closest friends.
With Redlin’s talents, it wasn’t long before she was asked to become a director of the Club. After three years, members are no longer considered newcomers and are required to move on, so Redlin went on to join the Newcomers’ Alumni group, then joined the “Venice streetwalkers,” as they jokingly call themselves — the Venice MainStreet “Downtowner” volunteer group of tourist greeters.
Redlin would go on to serve as a director of Venice MainStreet.
A special mission
“We weren’t ready to retire and just play golf,” recalled Newcomer friend Jeana Hilligoss, also a retired corporate professional. They formed a tight friendship.
“We both have a strong commitment to community, and enjoyed getting involved together,” she said.
At the behest of Hilligoss, Redlin tagged along to a bridge game at the Venice-Nokomis Woman’s Club, the oldest community club in Venice. She and Hilligoss were impressed with the organization’s history.
But something was missing.
In its heyday, the club joined in marching in the annual Christmas Parade and participated in many other community functions. Much of that had slipped by the wayside now that many members had gotten on in years.
Redlin went to the Venice Archives and read all the minutes of the meetings, some dating back 90 years, much of it written in longhand, said Doherty. Inspired, she made it her mission to revitalize the club.
“It needed to be rebooted,” Doherty said. “It was going through a generational change and many of the older members could no longer actively participate.”
Redlin served as a two-term president of the Venice-Nokomis Woman’s Club from 2014 to 2016.
“Carolyn took special pride in fusing the energies and talents of the Club’s longtime members with her generation of Venice women to accomplish a wide variety of projects and activities for the betterment of the Venice community,” Trammell said.
Redlin also served as president of the Venice Area Historical Society and was instrumental in finalizing the purchase of the Ringling Circus Train Car, which is currently being restored.
Once completed, it will then be gifted to Sarasota County for permanent display at the Historic Venice Train Depot, according to Trammell.
In the middle of her second term as president of the Society, health issues forced Redlin to resign. She passed away Feb. 27, 2018, in Severn, Maryland.
“Carolyn made a significant impact on VAHS,” recalled Clarke Pressly, president, in an open letter to VAHS members published in their quarterly newsletter. “She was excited about the Circus Train Car project, and she provided key leadership to the project at a critical time.
“She also moved the Society forward by recommending adoption of a new software program for managing membership and online communication strategies. The members of the Board of Directors are very grateful to Carolyn. (She) was passionate about preserving the best aspects of Venice including its appearance and history.”
Redlin didn’t just volunteer, she also donated financially to many projects.
Not only did the Venice-Nokomis Woman’s Club donate $100,000 to new William H. Jervey Venice Public Library, but Redlin left $30,000 to the library for future children’s projects from her personal estate.
“She not only loved Venice and its history, but her infectiousness, enthusiasm and outgoing personality drew many to the causes and activities she promoted and led,” Trammell said.