Michael Donald Edwards, Sarabeth Kalajian, Murf Klauber and Christine Jennings are the newest members of one of Sarasota’s most exclusive clubs — the Community Video Archives Hall of Fame.
For the 28th consecutive year, the Michael’s on East Ballroom was completely sold out for the CVA Luncheon, where guests were welcomed by CVA founder Annette Scherman and emcee Chris Pfahler. To date, CVA has produced nearly 200 biographical videos — what Scherman calls “a living history of our community that will inform and inspire countless others.” Copies of the videos are available in all Sarasota County libraries, the Jane Cook Library at New College, the Sarasota County History Center and the U.S. Library of Congress.
The first honoree was Michael Donald Edwards, for 12 years producing artistic director of the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Edwards, a native of Australia, told guests that he had found a home, personally and professionally, here in Sarasota. He gave great credit to Howard Millman, who “built a Ferrari here in Sarasota, handed me the keys and told me to drive it. It’s so wonderful to live in a community where the arts are truly valued,” he said.
The next honoree was Sarabeth Kalajian, director of Sarasota County libraries and historical resources. She thanked her mother, “from whom I learned about building community and kindness,” her father, “my hero, who taught me I could do anything,” her husband, John, who taught her everything she knows about courage, and those she works with, “true public servants who inspire me and energize me every day.”
The third honoree was Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber, who became CEO of The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort in 1967 and built it into the No. 1 tennis resort in the United States. Murf was a successful orthodontist from Buffalo, N.Y., and on his first visit to Longboat Key, following an early morning run on the beach, he decided Longboat Key was where he wanted to live and raise his family. “What a fun and fabulous life I have enjoyed,” said the 91-year-old Murf. “Thank you for giving me this honor today.”
The final honoree, Christine Jennings, has had three professional lives: as a banker (president of Sarasota Bank), politician and CEO of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. In fact, her acceptance speech was interrupted by a rendition of “Pride and Joy” sung by WBTT performers. "I am overwhelmed,” a surprised Christine said after the performance. Of her work with WBTT, she said, I know the question you’re all asking, “Why did the whitest woman in Sarasota get involved with this struggling troupe?” It was her belief in diversity and her belief in Nate Jacobs’ vision for what the troupe could become that led her to spend five years as its CEO, leading them out of debt, helping them to find a permanent home and insuring that they would remain debt free.
Among those seen were Sherry and Tom Koski, John LaCivita, Renee Hamad, Michael Saunders, Drayton Saunders, Wendy Mann Resnick, Debbi Benedict, Sue B. Klauber, Howard Millman and Carolyn Michel, Ron and Rita Greenbaum, Doug Barker, Linda DesMarais, Michael and Terri Klauber, Jennifer Mitchell, Pedro Reis, Helen McBean, Nate Jacobs, Dan Bailey, Stanley Kane, Larry Thompson, Guy Peterson, Bob Bartner and many others.