Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sarasota's champion is gone

Early this week, long time Sarasota friend, Bob Ardren died. He had been battling cancer for a while. Many in Sarasota and nearby that knew him are saddened by the loss of our friend.

The Tampa Tribune obituary:

Former Tribune Columnist Bob Ardren Dies At 67
Mike Wells of The Tampa
Tribune Published: January 2, 2008

Sarasota's champion is gone.

Bob Ardren
Former Tribune correspondent and longtime Sarasota resident Bob Ardren died Tuesday of cancer, said his longtime companion of 24 years, Cathy Ciccolella. He was 67.

For more than 20 years, Ardren wrote the Tribune's "Suncoast Shelter" column, analyzing new housing developments. His last column for the newspaper was published in July 2004.

At the time of his death, Ardren was the city reporter and a columnist for The Pelican Press, a weekly newspaper based on Siesta Key. He received multiple awards from the Florida Press Association.

He joined the Press in 1994, writing extensively about the city of Sarasota in news stories and his twice-monthly column, "Muttered on Main," covering life and events in downtown.

"It's going to leave a huge hole for us to fill," Press editor Anne Johnson said.
"He's been a great voice for us, downtown and the city of Sarasota," she said. "He was one of our greatest strengths."

Ardren also wrote about local waters, boating and the environment in another twice-monthly column, "Sarasota Waters.""Bob exemplified a Florida lifestyle," friend George Meyer said. "He came to Florida and it was like 'Ah, here's my home.'"

Many of the civic leaders Ardren criticized in his columns respected him a great deal, Johnson said.

"Some still remained a source for him after he wrote about them, and some ended up being good friends," she said. "He loved downtown Sarasota and it showed," Johnson said.

"He was protective when he felt things were going the wrong way. He could be pretty blunt about things, and yet he was so fair."

After attending the University of Iowa, he became a reporter for United Press International in Indianapolis and Detroit, and later worked in public relations for General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y., and Louisville, Ky., Ciccolella said.

He relocated to Des Moines, Iowa, as an editor for the Meredith Publishing Co.

After moving to Sarasota in 1976, he briefly worked for Walt's Fish Market and Seafood Restaurant before becoming director of public affairs at Sarasota's John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art, where he was also curator of the Ringling Circus Museum for a time.

Ardren was a regular contributing writer for Sarasota magazine and The Islander newspaper on Anna Maria Island.

He was a former president of the Florida Attractions Association and a founding member of the Sarasota-Manatee Press Club, Ciccolella said.

Other survivors include daughter Traci Ardren of Miami Springs; son "Joe" Eugene Ardren of Sarasota; and four grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Betty Hille of Norfolk, Neb.; and brother, William Ardren of Treasure Island.

No formal funeral will be held; instead, a celebration of Ardren's life will be held in Sarasota at a date and place to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Pines of Sarasota, Sarasota, FL 34236, or TideWell Hospice and Palliative Care, 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34238.

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