By: Mary J. Moses
Robert “Bob” Townsend was a remarkable man. Educated at the Chicago School of Design, Bob would live a life of beauty and creativity. Bob opened a decorating studio in New Haven Connecticut in the early 1950’s. A ball was being held for the Foot Guard near the time of President Eisenhower’s inauguration. Nearly 2,000 people attended, and Bob Townsend would be the one to design and make the ball gown for the Major Commandant’s wife, Sophia Swanson. The Commandant extended an invitation to Bob to attend the ball.
Bob was in attendance that evening, with his cousin on his arm. She wore a gorgeous gown Bob designed and made. Marilyn Swanson, the Major Commandants daughter, was there with her date as well. Somehow, Marilyn and Bob met, one dance led to another, and they ultimately switched dates for the evening. Bob impressed Marilyn’s parents with a beautifully written thank you letter.
Marilyn asked her parents permission to invite “Mr. Townsend” to the Policeman’s Ball. Her parents consented, and two and a half years later on June 26th 1954, they were married. Bob designed and made the dresses for the bride, the matron of honor, four brides maids, as well as gowns for the mother of the bride and mother of the groom.
Their lives were intertwined with fashion shows and decorating, Marilyn attended modeling school and modeled Bob’s designs. He made nearly all of Marilyn’s wardrobe.
A move to California encouraged Bob with his creativity, and he continued decorating and designing. He and Marilyn opened a restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, but the Caribbean was calling.
Bob secured a piece of property on the island of Montserrat, 250 miles South of Puerto Rico. Bob designed and decorated their beautiful Caribbean home. He also decorated the View Point Hotel and it’s cottages. Bob engaged local women in Montserrat in the art of tapestry. Here they created tapestries, totes, and like items.
Bob and Marilyn did a lot of work for the British Red Cross. Fashion shows and teas were some of the things they did best. Now, Winter Haven Florida was calling, from there to Mount Dora, on to Columbus Georgia, and finally, Brooksville Florida.
Bob loved to write, he wrote two short stories, and was working on a book. Soon he met writer Heddie Warner. She, recognizing his talent, encouraged Bob. During Founders Week in Brooksville, Bob designed and created a gown for Heddie to wear in the Founders Day Parade. Later that day, Heddie modeled the wonderful creation on a stage built in front of City Hall. Bob won first place for his design. The fashion show segwayed into an art and craft show being held in City Hall. Here guests were treated to a viewing of Bob’s “Tapestries of Montserrat” collection.
Bob lived an excellent life, he took joy in helping Marilyn at the Brooksville Women’s Club. Here he made the drapes that adorned the windowed for seven years. He decorated a beautiful historic home on Broad Street, was a member of Historic Hernando Preservation Society, as well as Friends of Chinsegut. He stitched, created and wrote with love.
When Bob passed on March 3rd, 2016, he left behind a manuscript he had been working on. It was here the love of his life picked up the pieces and painstakingly typed her precious Bob’s novel. With the help of friend and local author Jerry Cowling, Marilyn was able to get Bob’s beloved work published. The Woffington: Life and Loves of an Actressis a story depicting the life and love of an Irish actress set in the 18th century, was born. Bob’s Book can be purchased on Amazon, or through Kindle.
Historic Hernando Preservation Society honored Bob Townsend’s life at their April meeting. Marilyn arrived to accept the award in one of Bob’s beautiful creations that was indeed, stitched with love.
Michael And Charlotte Goldman: Passion for Pottery
By Mary Moses
You may see Mike and Char Goldman entering and exiting the Historic Hernando Preservation Society meetings hand in hand. “How sweet,” you may think, but theirs is a timeless story. Char was a 17 year old nurses aide, she wore a crisp white uniform with shoes to match. It was September of 1956 when Char laid eyes on her handsome patient, 18 year old Mike Goldman. Their story began…and they married December 26th of the same year!
Mike and Char have shared many interests over the years. Camping boating and raising horses. Char is an accomplished horse trainer, and she recalls a love of horses from a very early age. Arabians were her personal favorite, and the many pictures she shared showed her love and devotion for these regal animals. In addition, Mike and Char also enjoyed raising Black Angus cattle.
When Char was a small girl, she loved playing in the mud, an early sign of her love for pottery making. As fate would have it, she met a Navajo lady in Santa Fe, NM. She taught Char many of the basics. This early training led to classes at universities whenever she had the chance, and helping out in shops to learn more techniques to add to her repertoire.
Mike in his laid back manner simply states that his love of pottery came from following Char. He looks at ease in the potters chair arranged neatly next to his wheel. They speak of evenings trailing off into the wee hours as they peruse the hobby that brings them both so much joy.
As you enter their shop, you are overcome with the flow of creativity. Signs on the cabinet doors encourage you to “Be Happy, Be Humble, Follow Your Dreams.” Char is the one who had a vision for this engaging shop. Sometimes they give lessons to neighbor children, Char will also be speaking to Silverthorn about their ABC Artisan Pottery classes. Their articles range for serviceable cups and pots to one of a kind artistic sculptures. Several beautiful articles made it out of the kiln just that very afternoon, among them a beautiful aqua salad bowl with four serving bowls…a gift for her daughter.
We sat on the deck sipping raspberry lemonade, commenting on the numerous plants housed in gorgeous pottery. No surprise, both Mike and Char are Master Gardeners.
These two beautiful people love being a part of Historic Preservation. They were first drawn into it because they loved how friendly Jon and Dana Yeager were to them. They stay because there is so much to do, and they enjoy the meetings when they are able to come. Historic Hernando Preservation Society is honored to have Mike and Char Goldman among its membership.
The Historic Hernando Preservation Society was delighted to present Dr. Roger Landers with the LeeAnne Showman Award for Preservation for 2016 at the January 5th meeting. Dr. Landers is one of Hernando County’s leading historians and was a teacher, principal and district administrator in the Hernando County School System for nearly 33 years.
Dr. Landers received a Doctorate Degree from Florida State University. He has been a leading figure in historic research in our county and a major contributor in both lecturing and writing of Brooksville history. His most recent publication, Hernando County Florida: One hundred years or thereabout, covers history from 1842 to 1945. He has been an advisor for the Heritage Museum and the Hernando County Genealogical Society as well as an active member of the Seminole War Society and the Brooksville historic Round Table. He was instrumental in the development of research conducted at Bayport in 2008-2010 and became a principal adviser for the creation of the Hernando Historic Preservation Society.
Dr. Landers contributed substantial financial support for the Cultural Resource Assessment of Hernando County, Florida by the Gulf Archeological Research Institute in 2009, and he recently donated an important and significant Hernando County paleontological specimen to the Hernando County Historical Museum.
He has been credited as being a key figure in local history with Virginia Jackson, Executive director of the Heritage museum, Jan Knowles, former museum president, and Bob Martinez, history magazine publisher.
Historic Hernando Preservation Society was proud to present Marilyn Townsend, widow of Robert N. Townsend, with a Certificate of Appreciation for his work with Historic Preservation. Marilyn was also presented with a fruit basket.
Robert, “Bob”, was a long time member of Historic Hernando Preservation Society, and he was especially known in the historic community for his work in design. He was a key person in the execution of the Historic Home Tours Reception presented at City Hall in 2010. Bob and Marilyn were also members of Friends of Chinsegut.
Bob will be missed in the Hernando Historical community.
Contributed by: Mary Moses
The names of many worthy nominees were presented to the Historic Hernando Preservation Society for the LeeAnne Shoeman Award. The award was established to honor LeeAnne Shoeman, an educator, historian, and gifted writer. She came to an untimely end in 2014, and both the Hernando Historical Museum Association, and Historic Hernando Preservation Society sought to find ways to honor her memory. LeeAnne was instrumental in the Bayport Shipwreck Signage Project.
Historic Hernando Preservation Society presents a trophy to an individual who contributes to the historical significance of Hernando County. The recipient for 2014 was Virginia Jackson. She is affectionately known as the museum “mother”, local author and historian.
This year’s nominee, Jonathan L. Yeager worked tirelessly to develop a relationship between Historic Hernando Preservation Society and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. His research on the Seminole Indian Village of Chocochatti (1760ʼs-1835), led Seminole Tribe Chairman James E. Billie to sponsor the historical marker that was placed on May 30, 2014. It was a careful orchestration of the Historic Hernando Preservation Society, USF, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the City of Brooksville, FDOT and Hernando County. Jon managed to spearhead the project, and successfully see it through.
Dr. Brent Wiesman of USF stated concerning the dedication “this dedication ceremony was a historical first. Here we have a marker sponsored by the Seminole Tribe in partnership with the Historic Hernando Preservation Society. To my knowledge, this partnership is the first of its kind. Let it not be the last.”
Mr. Yeager also arranges for speakers for the Historic Hernando Preservation Society, several of which have come from the Humanities Council. He has served as Treasurer and Secretary. He has worked on research for Hope Hill, and is currently working on research for a Florida Heritage Landmark for Centralia.
The LeeAnne Shoeman Award was presented to Jon at the Historic Hernando Preservation Society meeting on January 7th at City Hall.
“I would like to send out a sincere thank you to the City of Brooksville, the 2014 Great Brooksvillian committee and the Tomanian Society for their elegant Award Ceremony on my behalf.
For the many years I served as volunteer for many organizations. I never thought I needed any recognition for the work I loved to do and received great gratification doing it until now.
This award bestowed on me by many many people and organizations has brought me great honor and such respect to be in the same honorable standing as those before me. As the 13th recipient of this prestigious award I will continue my work as always and remember this award and why I received it every day with my memories of everyone who helped me along the way. And a special thanks to all who shared that magical, special evening with me and my family and also to those who sent me congratulations but could not attend.
Let us always take a moment and look around and enjoy the rich heritage our City and County have and decide what we can do to preserve it always.
2014 Great Brooksvillian.”