Legendary Longboaters Katz, Lenobel, Dunn leave us in 2015

Florence Katz, Hal Lenobel and Edith Barr Dunn were nothing short of legendary presences on Longboat Key for decades. Longboat lost them this year after each enjoyed a lifetime of accomplishment and influence. 

Most recently, Florence Weisblat Katz, age 100, passed away at the Sarasota

Bay Club on December 26, 2015. She was preceded in death by her husband, Louis Katz and her son Nathan Katz. She is survived by her daughter and son in law, Judith and Robert Vigder, her daughter in law, Denise Katz, five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Born in Coshocton, Ohio in 1915, to Benjamin and Rebecca Weisblat, Florence had an appreciation for art and music. Florence graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in music from Oberlin College in 1937 and a Master’s degree in music from Ohio State University in 1939. While at Ohio State, she met Dr. Louis Katz who would become her husband. They settled in Dayton, Ohio where they raised a daughter, Judy, and a son, Nathan. In Dayton, she was active in the Council of Jewish Women, Hadassah, and Bonds for Israel. In 1969 Florence and Louis purchased a home in Sarasota where they would later settle after retiring. Florence was an active member of Temple Beth Israel on Longboat Key and was an Honorary Lifetime member of the Board of Trustees. Her love of music, combined with her determination and boundless energy, gave birth to the Temple Israel choir which has and continues to bring joy to so many. Florence was also committed to the mission and vision of Jewish Family and Children’s Service, Sarasota -Manatee. A recipient of the Visionary Award and the Senior Outreach Award, she could be found serving lunches and helping those in need until her death. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Sarasota – Manatee or the Temple Beth Israel Choir, Longboat Key.


Hal Lenobel 

Hal Lenobel was another Longboat legend and in his 91 years, Hal Lenobel spent 62 married to his loving wife, Hazel, raised two successful children, served as Mayor of Longboat Key three times and left a lasting positive impression on most everyone he met. Hal passed on Sunday, Aug. 30, in the presence of his family at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

After Hal graduated high school in Brooklyn where he grew up, Hal’s education continued at New York University and then on to the St. Louis University School of Dentistry. His career in dentistry started toward the end of World War II when he served in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific.

In 1949 dentistry was eclipsed in Hal’s heart by something even more meaningful. Anyone familiar with Hal over the years knows how passionately he loved his wife, Hazel. Hal first met her while working as a busy Brooklyn dentist in 1949. Their love started as a blind date.

Hal had a friend who had dated Hazel and complained, “She’s a great woman, but I could not get to first base with her.”

Hal took Hazel out to the movies (it was all he could afford at the time), and she was the last woman he ever dated. In fact, Hal said he proposed on the third date. He knew she was the one, and he said she gave him a feeling inside that made his mind clear.

Following two years of marriage, Hazel gave birth to Jeffrey in 1951, and Sandy in 1955.

Hal loved Hazel so much he had to buy her a second engagement ring in short order. Just before Hazel went to the hospital to give birth to Jeffrey, she asked Hal to hold keep the ring for safekeeping.

Hal placed the ring in his watch pocket. Then he made a rookie error – he forgot and sent his jacket to the cleaners. The ring was lost and Hal spent two years saving to replace the ring. Hal and Hazel would laugh about it later in life. Hal and Hazel retired in 1993 to live full time on Longboat Key. He was the longest maintaining member of the Longboat Key Club where he scored a total of 13 holes in one at the Club and was given the nickname ‘Hole in One Hal.’

Hal’s son, Jeffrey, remembers his father: “The older I get the more I am amazed and impressed by the ability my father had to play a positive role in both the community and in the lives of our family. His work ethic, his humor and his desire and ability to stay close to those he loved will always be an inspiration. I feel particularly fortunate to have had a father who was so dedicated and so kind.”

Yet another quality of Hal Lenobel was the frenetic pace that left him energy to not only fill his days on Longboat Key with golf, but to dedicate 12 years to the town commission including three terms as Mayor.

In total, Hal served on the commission from 1997 to 2005. Then in an era of discord, he was asked to come back as Mayor and did just that in 2008.

Town Manager Dave Bullock spoke of Lenobel’s reach: “He is an institution, everybody knew Hal. My observation of Hal is he was very straightforward, he was always a Longboat advocate. I have never heard anybody say a bad word about him.”

Following his years on the Longboat Key Commission and tenure as Mayor, following the passing of his wife Hazel, and following the end of his days spent on the golf course, Hal spent the final three years of his life holding weekly breakfast meetings with some of the area’s most prominent and interesting residents.

Hal served as Chairman of the Longboat Key Breakfast Club, which he started along with Longboat Key News Publisher Steve Reid and former Longboat Key Town Manager Bruce St. Denis in 2012. Later, former Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson, Longboat Key News Associate Publisher Melissa Reid, former Sarasota City Mayor Mollie Cardamone and others joined the group.


Edith Barr Dunn

Edith Barr Dunn, a legend on Longboat Key and Sarasota, passed away on February 4, 2015. She was a resident of Sarasota and Longboat Key for over 60 years, co-owned the Waffle Shop and owned two other restaurants — Barr’s in Sarasota and Shenkel’s on Longboat Key.

She was involved with various fundraising events benefiting dozens of local and national charities and organizations. She especially enjoyed the ones that helped children.

Edith was regularly seen ringing the bell for the Salvation Army outside the Longboat Key Publix, and for more than 30 years she was a representative for Toys for Tots. She loved riding with the Marines in the Sarasota Holiday Parade. She was chairperson for numerous 50/50 raffles, and just two months ago, at the age of 94, she ran her last and very successful raffle for the Longboat Key Kiwanis Club’s Lawn Party.

Edith was often seen around town driving her Mercedes, wearing one of her many signature Stetson hats.

Edith was preceded in death by her two sons, Kenneth Hugh Barr (Kenny) who was co-owner of the Sport’s Page on Main St. and her second husband Gus Dunn.


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