Former Vice Mayor Dave Brenner passes following life of dedication to Longboat and Philadelphia

Editor & Publisher

Former Vice Mayor Dave Brenner, a man known for his intense involvement in both town politics and numerous community endeavors on Longboat Key, died last Thursday morning at age 83 in his Islander home in Longboat Key, from complications of congestive heart failure.

In his official capacity on the key, Brenner served on the Planning and Zoning Board between 2006 and 2009. There, Brenner was a major participant in initiating a “Vision Plan” for Longboat Key.

That plan helped develop and define the goals and aspirations for the community and has informed policy from density to beach maintenance to zoning since it’s formal adoption.


Instinct for politics

Dave Brenner’s instinct for politics and passion for everything Longboat propelled him to run for commission.

On the commission, Brenner was part of several negotiations and decisions including the approval of the redevelopment of Publix and the surrounding plaza, the approval of the Longboat Key Club & Resort’s Islandside renovation plan as well as the hiring of Town Manager Dave Bullock who replaced Bruce St. Denis after 14 years of service.


Brotherly Love

David W. Brenner, Founder of the Philadelphia Sports Congress, awards Eagles player Reggie White in 1993.

Brenner’s political life started in Philadelphia, where he served as both Commerce and Finance Director under former Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode. In fact, Goode after being elected Mayor in 1983, named Brenner his very first Cabinet appointment as the City Commerce Director.

That appointment pulled Brenner out of retirement. Brenner was at that time 47 years old and had already spent a long and successful career primarily at Arthur Young & Co., where he served as Managing Partner.

During Goode’s second term, Brenner was named Finance Director a post he filled until the Mayor’s term came to an end.

Brenner’ life in Philadelphia went beyond simple politics. He served as Chairman on the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Ballet Company and he also founded and was President of the Philadelphia Sports Congress. Brenner was born and lived his entire life until moving to Longboat Key in Philadelphia. He graduated from Overbrook High School and received a Bachelor’s in Economics from Wharton School of Business.

Dave Brenner was not only loyal to Philadelphia and Longboat Key, but perhaps most importantly to his wife, Madeleine. The two met while attending Junior High School and dated and married in 1957. The couple had three children, Eric, Lisa and Suzanne.


Longboat beckons…

Dave and his wife, known as Maggie to friends and family, were one of the earliest visitors at the now legendary Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. At that time, the resort was transitioning from its humble beginnings by founder Herb Field and would soon transform into the vision the new owner, Dr. Murf Klauber had for the property.

The Brenners kept coming back to their island paradise and bought a unit at the Colony in 1974. It wasn’t until 2001 that they became full-time residents at the Islander Club where Dave resided.

And while Dave Brenner was involved and attended Temple Beth Israel, his propensity for the political soon awoke.

When Brenner ran for commission election, he adamantly told Longboat Key News, “The number one issue is going to relate to sea level rise. It is going to be the issue that is going to make a big difference if nothing is done about it. Florida is nothing but coastline.”

Brenner sought to use his post to pursue planning for the community. In many ways, that effort manifested in the Vision Plan.

Another concern that Brenner brought to the community was an attempt to strike a balance between commercial and residential activity on the island. Brenner repeatedly sought ways to entice and keep a doctor or medical presence on the key as well as an effort to support businesses that might keep Longboaters from having to traverse the traffic to the mainland.

“We are residential on Longboat Key, but we need to have a visitor component because that greases the wheel for the economics of the community. And the third component is the commercial aspect on Longboat Key, which should bring an effort to keep the things we like on the island,” said Brenner in a candidate debate.

In his final years, after he served as Vice Mayor for two years on the commission, Brenner would often make known his support for a Community Arts & Cultural Center next to Publix as well as an insistence that Longboat’s beach policy remained robust and proactive.

But perhaps Dave Brenner will best be remembered as a friend. Former Mayor Terry Gans cut his political teeth under the mentorship of Brenner.

“He was a friend from when we first came to Longboat. I was a newcomer, but knew he was somehow immersed in town issues, and as I took more of an interest in things, he was my teacher, example, mentor and supporter,” said Gans.

Gans, his wife Diane and Dave and Maggie became close after years of teaming up at the Longboat Key Club’s monthly Trivia Contest.

Gans credits Brenner for what he says is one of the town’s most important and difficult issues.

“One that was important to Dave was facing the subject of Longboat’s unfunded pension liability, and helping develop strategies to deal with it. The town’s financial health today is in part due to Dave’s efforts,” said Gans.

Dave Brenner will be long remembered for his intensity of involvement, his ability to balance the world of business and finance with the quiet serenity of residential living and most importantly, for his ability to be our friend.

Dave Brenner is survived by his wife and three children, Eric, Lisa, and Suzanne, three grandchildren, and a brother. Memorial services will be announced.

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Longboat Key News

3 Responses for “Former Vice Mayor Dave Brenner passes following life of dedication to Longboat and Philadelphia”

  1. It is with great sadness that I am reading your article about Dave while visiting Germany to help my Dad celebrate his 80th birthday day. Dave was truly a wonderful visionary and one of the most open-minded man I’ve met in the US. He will be dearly missed by many fellow Longboaters, whose lives he touched in different but always kind, considerate, humble & really positive & pleasant ways. My sincere condolences go out to his lovely wife Maggie, his children and grandchildren.
    My prayers & thoughts are with you at this sad time and I hope that all the wonderful memories you shared will help you overcome your grieve and loss of one of LBK’s finest.


    Tina Rudek-Stark

  2. Dave was a fine caring gentleman and professional. I was appointed by Dave to the LBK Organizational Audit Team a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed working directly with Dave and in addition learned so much about LBK from him. It was a great experience for me.
    Rest in peace my friend.
    Ross P. Alander, MLIR
    Cedars West

  3. Robin Radin says:

    Dave was truly a lovely man.

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